Athens Alzheimer Association is a non-profit organization founded in 2002 by people with dementia, their relatives and health care professionals interested in Alzheimer’s disease. It aims to raise awareness of all forms of dementia and improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their families. Currently the Association numbers 5.500 official members, has a staff of 60 health professionals and 55 active volunteers and is run by a 7-member elected board.
DAY CARE CENTERS
Athens Alzheimer’s Association runs four Day Care Centers in Athens, offering daily care to people affected with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. The Centers’ staff consists of a number of physicians, psychologists, speech therapists, social workers, nurses and physiotherapists, as well as administrative personnel.
Alzheimer Athens Day Care Centers’ activities include:
- Memory clinic
The Association Memory Clinics offer neurological and neuropsychological evaluation to people over 60 and provide timely and accurate diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Non-pharmacological interventions for people with dementia include: cognitive training sessions, physical training programmes and other specific therapies (art therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, reminiscence therapy), individually or in groups.
- Therapies for strengthening mental functions (memory, attention, speech, etc.)
- Individual and collective creative work
- Fitness programs
- Other special treatments (art therapies, cure for memories, speech therapy, ergotherapy, etc.)
The Association organizes numerous educational programmes and support groups for caregivers of people with dementia.
Educational seminars (eight 2-hour sessions) take place on a regular basis during the year teaching family caregivers how to deal with the practical and psychological burden of dementia.
These programmes focus on caregivers’ specific needs providing:
- all the necessary information about dementia symptoms, progression and available treatments
- specific skills enabling them to effectively cope with the physical, psychological and financial burden of dementia
PSYCHIATRIC CLINIC FOR CAREGIVERS
The psychological burden of dementia is an important, yet underestimated aspect of dementia. Compared to the general population, caregivers are in greater danger of developing depression and various psychosomatic conditions. The Association offers psychiatric support to relieve them from their psychological burden
The Alzheimer Athens Home Care programme is designed for people with dementia who do not have access to the Day Care Centers’ services due to mobility problems. The programme aims to enable persons with dementia to remain in the community for as long as possible and avoid institutional care. Health care professionals visit people with dementia at home on a regular basis and offer nursing services, physiotherapy and cognitive training to people affected and counseling or psychoeducation to their caregivers.
“Alzheimer Café” is an intervention for people with dementia and their caregivers. It takes the form of a social gathering and promotes discussions, exchange of information about dementia, sharing of experiences, emotional support and socialization of its members. All the above services are provided free of charge.
The Association organizes other activities including:
- Awareness campaigns about dementia and memory testing for the public in Athens and in other Greek cities
- Congresses and seminars for health professionals
- Participation in European and international research programmes
- Collaboration with municipalities, the Church and other philanthropic organizations to promote prevention and early diagnosis of dementia.
The general objectives of Athens Alzheimer Association are:
- To improve public awareness and engagement
- To create services for carers and families in all parts of Greece
- To reinforce education and training for healthcare professionals
- To establish a national dementia registry to design policies and improve care for dementia patients in the country
- To improve prevention, early diagnosis and effective treatment.
WHY HAS IT BEEN SELECTED AS A BEST PRACTICE?
Athens Alzheimer Association has a lot of services and activities for people with dementia and their caregivers. All the services are provided free of charge. Except of the above activities, the Association also organizes awareness campaigns for dementia and memory testing for the public in Athens and in other Greek cities.
The Association participates in European and international research programs and in collaboration with philanthropic organizations promotes prevention and early diagnosis of dementia.
It has been selected as a good practice, because it is an association with a great contribution to the improvement of the quality of life of people with dementia and their families. It comprehends the needs that those people have and aims to meet them.