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 5500 official members, has a staff of 70 health professionals and 55 active volunteers and is run by a 7-member elected board.
Services and activities
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:
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.
Nonpharmacological 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.
Alzheimer’s Association Day Care Centers contact details are the following:
Pagrati 📍 Markou Mousourou & Stilponos 33
📞 210701327, operating hours 9:00-20:00
Ampelokipoi 📍 Vatheos 25 & Panormou
📞 2106424228, operating hours 9:00-20:00
Marousi📍 Zinonos Eleatou 8
📞 2106180073, operating hours 9:00-17:00
Ilioupoli📍 Agiou Konstantinou 7
📞 2109700177, operating hours 10:00-14:00
Aspropirgos 📍 Filis 75, 19300
📞 2105573964, operating hours 09:00-17:00
Ilion📍 Filiaton 71, 19300
📞 2132141313, operating hours 09:00-15:00
Iraklio Attikis📍 Eleftheriou Venizelou 232 & Eleon
📞 2102827747, operating hours 8:30-16:30
Piraeus📍 34ou Syntagmatos Pezikou & Evaggelistrias 21
📞 2104221259, operating hours 8:30-16:30
Arta📍 Alexandrou Zara 2, Old General Hospital of Arta
📞 2681079206, operating hours 8:30-16:30
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 Association publishes leaflets and booklets about all aspects of dementia and a quarterly magazine, all distributed free of charge and available on the internet.
GREEK DEMENTIA ACTION PLAN
Athens Alzheimer’s Association has made a major contribution to the development and implementation of the National Dementia Action Plan. Dr Paraskevi Sakka was the head of the working group which generated the Greek Dementia Action Plan defining the following set of actions:
- Establish a national dementia registry to design policies and improve care for dementia patients in the country
- Improve public awareness and engagement – reduce stigma
- Improve prevention, early diagnosis and effective treatment
- Create services for carers and families in all parts of Greece
- Enhance residential/institutional care, as well as care at home
- Effectively integrate care pathways and promote coordination of social and medical care
- Reinforce education and training for healthcare professionals
- Establish research programs that embrace innovative technologies
- Create legislation to support patients’ needs and rights
- Effective implementation-monitor progress- update
Dr Sakka has also been assigned President of the National Observatory of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, an independent strategic public institution overseeing the implementation of Dementia Action Plan and providing guidance to the state regarding dementia issues.
Implementation of the National Action Plan has already started. So far:
- Α national dementia registry is underway by the Greek National Health Organization.
- A rating system to measure the burden of dementia on families is being developed, taking into account severity of the disease, socioeconomic status, access to health and social care services. This will be used by the State to accordingly establish financial benefits for persons with dementia and their families.
- 6 Memory Clinics in the Psychiatric or Neurological Departments of General Hospitals in the Greek cities are organized
- 7 Dementia Day Care Centers in big cities and 9 Day Care Centers in collaboration with Municipalities in smaller cities are implemented throughout the country
- 3 hospices all over Greece are under construction
DEMENTIA FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES
DEMENTIA COUNCELING SERVICES NETWORK WITHIN MUNICIPALITIES ALL OVER GREECE, IN COLLABORATION WITH THE NATIONAL INTERMUNICIPAL NETWORK OF HEALTHY CITIES
In 2018, the president of the Greek National Network of Healthy Municipalities (EDDYPPY), Mr. Giorgos Patoulis, Regional Mayor of Attica, in collaboration with Alzheimer Athens and its president Dr. Paraskevi Sakka, launched the program “Dementia friendly communities – “Building Counseling Services network for Dementia within municipalities all over Greece”. The program is based on an innovative service delivery model for dementia and led to the creation of Dementia Counseling Centers in 94 Network member Municipalities all over Greece. These Centers are strategically placed in existing structures of the Local Government (KAPI, KIFI, Public Clinic) in the Municipalities of Greece and are staffed by health and social care professionals of the Municipalities, ensuring cost minimization and direct access to the target group.
The Dementia Counseling Centers are points of reference to support and serve people with memory problems and Dementia as well as their caregivers in their place of residence. The aim of the program is to educate the public in dementia related subjects, to promote prevention and early diagnosis, support people with dementia that resident in the participating municipalities through non-pharmaceutical treatments, such as memory exercises, occupational therapy, gymnastics, etc. alongside the psychosocial support of their families, in order to produce specific therapeutic results, as well as to optimize the use of human and financial resources of each Municipality.
The health professionals who staff the Dementia Counseling Centers of the Municipalities throughout Greece, have been trained with modern and asynchronous training through an e-platform in all aspects Dementia. They have also completed 30 hours of practical training at the Day Care Centers for people with dementia of the Alzheimer Athens and Alzheimer Hellas. Their training continues throughout the duration of the program at regular intervals with workshops and seminars through the e-platform and in person when necessary. So far, 4 training cycles have been completed, a total of 280 health professionals have been trained and in October 2023 the fifth training cycle will take place with 30 new participants.
Overall, the core aim of the project is to lay the foundations for the creation of dementia-friendly communities in Greece. Our inspiration of a dementia friendly community is a space including friends, neighbours, lay people, shops and businesses, children and young adults and all involved stakeholders that understand and appreciate the condition. It is a place where people with dementia will live as independently as possible and they will be valued, understood and respected.
For more information visit www.dementia-community.gr
BUILDING DEMENTIA FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES
A dementia friendly community is a place or space in which people with dementia and their carers are empowered and supported. For people living with dementia to remain engaged within their communities, businesses and organisations need to demonstrate awareness, respect and responsiveness. For this purpose Athens Alzheimer Association will be running an educational program specially designed for their employees in order to make these places dementia friendly.
The main pillars of the program are:
● Encouraging organisations to establish dementia friendly approaches and implement strategies that help people with dementia.
● Training employees to recognize the person with dementia and behave accordingly.
● Building physical enviroments, accessible and easy to navigate for people with dementia..
● Raising awareness amongst employees to prevent dementia and eliminate stigma.
● Supporting employees/colleagues who care for a person with dementia.
Overall, our aim is to lay the foundations for the creation of dementia-friendly communities in Greece. Our inspiration of a dementia friendly community includes friends, neighbours, lay people, shops and businesses, children and young adults and all involved stakeholders that understand and appreciate the condition. It is a community where people with dementia will live as independently as possible and they will be valued, understood and respected.