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December 2014: “Prevention of Dementia: Why & How”

Alliance activities

Keith Taylor, MEP (UK) and Vice-Chairperson of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance, hosted an Alzheimer Europe lunch debate on dementia prevention.

Mr Taylor welcomed the delegates and opened the debate by saying that dementia is a challenge for every EU country but also for the EU as a whole. He noted that we cannot be complacent about dealing with the growing societal challenge that is dementia. He also stressed the need to continue developing and supporting solutions, in collaboration with national Alzheimer associations in every EU country. Mr Taylor then introduced Dr Kivipelto, the featured speaker for the debate.

Dr Miia Kivipelto, Professor of Clinical Geriatric Epidemiology at Sweden’s  Karolinska Institute and Senior Geriatrician at Karolinska University Hospital, presented “Prevention of Dementia: Why & How”. Her presentation, based on the outcomes of the FINGER study, showed that cognitive decline can be slowed down or even prevented by addressing multiple risk factors simultaneously. This approach clearly contrasts with current research practice, where clinical trials tend to focus on a single risk factor.

The FINGER study (Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability), led by Dr Kivipelto, began in 2009 with a group of 1,260 Finnish people aged 60-77. The study included nutrition, exercise, cognitive training and social activity, as well as monitoring of metabolic and vascular risk factors over two years. The intervention period ended in February 2014 and the final study results are expected within the next few months. These results will show that multidomain intervention is effective in reducing or preventing cognitive decline. Dr Kivipelto said that she would like to pool her results with those of similar studies in other countries, in the hope of identifying more people with dementia risk factors.

Dr Kivipelto was followed by Heike von Lützau-Hohlbein, Chair of Alzheimer Europe, who presented two recently published AE publications. The 2014 Dementia in Europe Yearbook is a comparative report on national policies and practices. It addresses different aspects of the timely diagnosis of dementia and of the post-diagnostic care and support available to individuals living with dementia in 30 European countries. The other new report is about the ethical dilemmas sometimes faced by people with dementia and their carers. In addressing ethical dilemmas, the authors focus on some of the more problematic aspects of living with dementia but with the positive aim of trying to make such issues less of a problem.

Ms von Lützau-Hohlbein also presented the Glasgow Declaration, which was launched at the Alzheimer Europe Conference in October 2014. In broad terms, the Glasgow Declaration calls for the creation of a European Dementia Strategy and national strategies in every country in Europe. The signatories also call upon world leaders to recognise dementia as a public health priority and to develop a global action plan on dementia.

Mr Taylor joined Ms von Lützau-Hohlbein in thanking Dr Kivipelto and all the delegates for their participation and support.

Delegates at the lunch debate included Irish MEPs Nessa Childers and Deirdre Clune, along with representatives of MEPs Biljana Borzan (Croatia) and Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland). Other participants included representatives from the European Commission, the French Permanent Representation to the EU, the pharmaceutical industry and delegates from 11 Alzheimer Europe member associations.



Last Updated: Thursday 07 January 2016