Tomorrow we leave for Malta, where we will attend the Alzheimer Europe conference, as we have the last two years. We had thought to take a year off (it is an expensive trip) until we learned that this year's theme is Dementia Friendly Communities. Since the Fox Valley Memory Project is, to the best of our knowledge, one of the few community-based "dementia friendly" initiatives in the United States, it felt very important to be there to learn from others who are years ahead of us in such efforts. Fortunately, the Helen Bader Foundation agreed, and is covering a portion of our expenses with a grant.
Last year's meeting of Alzheimer Europe (in Vienna; interesting settings are a long-standing AE feature) drew nearly 500 persons from 44 nations. This year's registration is even larger, suggesting that Dementia Friendly Communities are an idea whose time has come (or perhaps that there are many people eager to visit Malta). One of the reasons we love this conference is that it brings together persons from many disciplines (research, public policy, social support, advocacy, etc.), along with persons with the diagnosis and their care partners, to engage in common conversation. We have learned much (and borrowed many good ideas) from previous conferences, and believe we will learn even more this year.
In addition to keynote addresses and break-out sessions, there will be multiple "poster sessions" where one can browse the exhibits and chat with their presenters. We will present a poster about the Fox Valley Memory Project at a session dedicated to community-based initiatives, which promises to offer a wealth of exciting ideas.
We will be posting regularly from Malta - please share this rich experience with us!