On 20-22 March, Alzheimer Europe hosted its first in-person meetings of 2023, in Brussels, including a Public Affairs meeting on 22 March. The organisation was delighted to welcome representatives from 19 of its members from all regions of Europe, to exchange on national policy developments and campaigning activities. The Public Affairs meetings provide a forum for national Alzheimer’s associations to share learnings, challenges and good practices in an inclusive, open and collaborative environment.
The meeting started with a warm welcome from Jean Georges, Executive Director, Alzheimer Europe, followed by talks from member organisations, including Alzheimer Portugal, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Alzheimer Iceland, and Spominčica Alzheimer Slovenija, among many others. Members’ highlights included the launch of support services for people with early-onset and rarer dementias in Germany, a new activity centre for people with early dementia near Reykjavik (Iceland), and an anti-stigma campaign targeted at adolescents and teenagers in Italy.
Two of Alzheimer Europe’s newest member organisations, Nezabutni (Ukraine) and Dementia Lithuania shared their efforts to establish a national dementia plan for their respective countries, highlighting particular challenges they are facing. As part of the Public Affairs meeting, Jean Georges also outlined plans for the 2023 Dementia in Europe Yearbook, which will focus on the topic of legal capacity and decision-making in dementia, with particular reference to frameworks such as the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD).
Continuing on the same topic, Maria do Rosario Zincke dos Reis, Chairperson of Alzheimer Europe and representative of Alzheimer Portugal, explained how Portugal has undergone legal reforms to comply with the UN CRPD, developing a new framework to address legal capacity, guardianship and advance directives. On the European policy front, Alzheimer Europe updated its members on campaigning plans ahead of the European Parliament elections, which will take place in 2024. Providing some historical perspective, Kate Boor-Ellis, Communications Officer gave an overview of the European Dementia Pledge 2019 campaign, which was widely disseminated through the organisation’s communication channels and those of member organisations. Through these collaborative actions Alzheimer Europe was able to sign up 230 candidate MEPs to the pledge, hailing from all EU Member States and all political groups in the European Parliament.
Alzheimer Europe member associations also shared their experiences of advocacy at the EU level; France Alzheimer explained how they supported the European Dementia Pledge 2019 campaign, organising five meetings with MEPs and inviting all French candidates to join the European Alzheimer’s Alliance. Elsewhere, Alzheimer Nederland shared their work on dementia-inclusive elections, providing guidance and accessible information on voting for people with dementia. Jean Georges then drew the meeting to a close, thanking all participants for their valuable contributions to the meeting, and their ongoing work to change policy, perceptions and practice to improve the lives of people affected by dementia. Alzheimer Europe’s next Public Affairs meeting is scheduled to take place in Brussels on 6 and 7 June 2023.