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PL3. Innovation and dementia

Detailed programme, abstracts and presentations

PL3.1. Giving a voice to people with dementia – the experience of the European Working Group of People with Dementia

Baláčková Nina

Nina Baláčková was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2007 at the age of 49 years. Two years later, she decided to help publicise information about Alzheimer's to more people. She speaks to the public about her life with dementia. In her presentation at the Alzheimer Europe conference, she will share her journey with Alzheimer’s disease, highlighting the impact of diagnosis and present lessons from her activities as an advocate on behalf of people with dementia in the Czech Republic and on a European level in the European Working Group of People with Dementia. She will pay particular attention to the situation of younger people with dementia, drawing on her personal experience to present recommendations to improve the diagnosis, support and involvement of younger people with dementia.

PL3.2. Alzheimer’s disease – a priority of the Innovative Medicines Initiative

Vaudano Elisabetta

The number of people with Alzheimer's disease is increasing, and there are no treatments available that will make a real difference to the relentless course of this disease. There are some drugs available for Alzheimer's disease, and while they do help, they only treat the symptoms and don't slow the progression of the disease. Despite very significant investments and many clinical trials drug developers have so far failed to deliver any real innovative treatment for patients. Many attempts have failed, partly because improvements seen in animals don't always translate into benefits in people and possibly because in clinical trials drugs have not been tested in the right patient population, at the right dose or early enough in the disease progression.

The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) is a public-private partnership between the EU and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, aiming to tackle bottlenecks in drug development and confront areas of healthcare need that are of high priority to society, leading to more efficient discovery and development of better and safer medicines for patients. Alzheimer’s disease is of high priority in the IMI research agenda and this talk will presented the IMI portfolio of on-going and planned research activities aimed to tackle the challenges and deliver needed tools and models to foster the progress of Alzheimer’s disease pharmacological Research and Development.

PL3.3. Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia: The elephant in the room?

Mamo David C.

The dementias are now universally considered a public health priority, and developed countries have instituted strategies to address the personal, social, and economic cost of these chronic neurodegenerative conditions. Most efforts focus of the critical clinical aspects including early recognition and diagnosis, availability and appropriate use of cognitive enhancers, minimising use of chemical and physical restraints, medical and nursing support for patients with dementia, and caregiver support. Yet, neuropsychiatric complications of dementia remain one of the most prevalent reasons for failure of community care and need for residential services, affecting up to 85% of patients with dementia across the course of the illness. Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) includes a broad range of neuropsychiatric disturbance that occur across the entire course of dementia, including anxiety and depression earlier in the course of the illness which often precede diagnosis of cognitive decline, misperception phenomena and psychotic symptoms in early to middle stages of the illness, and behavioural agitation in the middle to later stages of the illness. The significance and limitations of the current management strategies of BPSD will be discussed. It is proposed that BPSD is a true “elephant in the room” in dementia care, and that neuropsychiatric care of patients with dementia must be incorporated at all levels of care through public and caregiver education, training of direct care staff, and availability of resources to address neuropsychiatric consequences of dementia.

PL3.4. Assistive technologies supporting people with dementia and their carers

Meiland Franka

Assistive ICT technologies are increasingly popular in health care. Also in the field of dementia, the use of assistive technologies is growing. These technologies are used to support persons with dementia in coping with the consequences of the disease; to support informal carers in their care task; and to assist professional carers in their daily practice. Not only will assistive technologies bring new opportunities in dementia care, it will also provide a means to maintain and promote good quality of care for the growing number of people with dementia in the community.

In order to reach this goal, it is important that the assistive technologies are developed to adequately meet the needs and wishes of the persons with dementia and carers. Community-dwelling persons with dementia have unmet needs in various domains of daily life, such as memory, daily activities, social contacts and safety. Furthermore, it is important to take into account specific problems people with different types of dementia and in different stages of dementia may experience. Though it is recognised that people with dementia are able to learn, learning to use new aids is complicated by e.g. memory and concentration problems, problems understanding instructions, recognising objects/images, or problems carrying out complex actions (apraxia). Also, psychological and behaviour problems can affect learning to use different types of assistive technology. Research has shown that it is valuable to actively involve persons with dementia and their carers in the development of assistive technologies, but this is no common practice yet. 

Various assistive technologies are used in dementia care and positive effects have been reported, like improved cognition, well-being, safety, less carer burden and improved self-confidence, and improved staff satisfaction. However, research into the effectiveness of these interventions is often carried out with small study samples and rather weak study designs. This may limit the acceptance and implementation of assistive technologies in dementia care.



Last Updated: Monday 04 November 2013


  • Acknowledgements

    The 23rd Alzheimer Europe Conference in St. Julian's, Malta received funding from the European Union, in the framework of the Health Programme. Alzheimer Europe and the Malta Dementia Society gratefully acknowledge the additional support provided by foundations and companies.
  • European Union