I was fortunate to be able to recently attend in-person, the 35th global ADI conference at The Oval in London. It was a huge privilege to showcase some of the amazing work of the Allied Health Professional (AHP) dementia community in Scotland and I will talk about that more in another Blog. Today, I would like to share some of my experiences of attending my first ADI global conference. The theme for the conference was “New horizons in dementia: building on hope”.
Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) is the international federation of Alzheimer’s associations (105 members) from around the world, in official relations with the World Health Organisation (WHO). Admittedly, it seemed unfamiliar to be travelling so long for work (a whole 5 hours!) but when I heard about some of the journeys made by delegates, I was in awe. I had conversations with people from Australia, British Virgin Islands and Peru to name but a few. ADI believes that key to winning the fight against dementia lies in a unique combination of global solutions and local knowledge. The commitment to this throughout the conference was inspiring with a massive amount of expertise available including the voices of people with lived experience. It was hard to fit in everything as there were so many presentations, posters, showcase stands and conversations to have. I will try to give a brief flavour of some of the highlights from the sessions I attended:
Many passionate speakers welcomed us to the Conference sharing the vision of prevention, care and inclusion today, and cure tomorrow. The opening ceremony concluded with the Poco Poco Dance. DY Suharya from Asia Pacific Alzheimer Disease International shared research on the positive impacts of dancing on the brain, the creation of community movement and identity. Delegates from the Asia Pacific Team invited us to get moving and join in. The dance was stimulating, clear to follow and created enjoyment with lots of smiles and laughter in the room and plans to explore this further……watch this space!
Diagnosis, diagnostic tools and cognitive assessments session
Throughout the conference, it was key to hear from the voices of people with lived experience and Kevin McQuaid from the Irish Dementia Working Group provided a powerful presentation on the vital need for proper and timely diagnosis. Key messages included that his life didn’t end, it took on a new direction, he spoke of finding your passion and keeping active, which resonates with the work of the AHPs. Kevin received a well-deserved standing ovation, which was one of many emotional moments.
I enjoyed many conversations with people living with dementia and those who support them during the conference including members of Active Voices. The commitment to sharing their knowledge and experiences in order to make things better always inspires me.
Solutions and challenges in strengthening care support
Henry Simmons from Alzheimer Scotland shared a decade of disruption and transformation around Scotland’s post diagnostic support. A clever animation was used to take us through the ongoing journey with key messages ‘disrupt, challenge, change, evidence, don’t give up!’ Also, a good opportunity for a quick photo call with some of the Scottish delegates!
I could go on and still have many sessions to catch up with virtually so there may be more to follow. Thank you to everyone involved in the Conference and to all the people I was fortunate to connect with, I still have much to process and follow up on. I will finish with the words of Dale Goldhawk during the closing ceremony “You are not alone. Together we are stronger.”