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 4550 official members, has a staff of 43 health professionals and 45 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 in Athens are located at:
Address: 89 Markou Mousourou St., Athens, 116 36
Tel: +30 210 7013271, Fax: +30 210 6012239
Open Monday to Friday, 09:00-20:00
Address: Vatheos 25 & Panormou St., Athens, 115 22
Tel: +30 210 6424228, Fax: +30 210 6424228
Open Monday to Friday, 09:00-15:00
Address: Zinonos Eleatou 8 St., Maroussi, 151 23
Tel: +30 210 6180073
Open Monday to Friday, 09:00-15:00
Address: Agiou Konstantinou 7 St., Ilioupoli, 163 46
Tel: +30 210 9706347
Open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10:30- 13:00
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
There are currently 200,000 people living with dementia in Greece and 400,000 family carers looking after them. Although there is a National Action Plan for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in place and there are Memory Clinics and Day Care Centers for people with dementia in the large cities of Greece, compared to existing needs, services are woefully inadequate. Large areas of the country are not covered by any specialized facilities. Athens Alzheimer Association (AAA) in collaboration with the Greek National Network of Healthy Municipalities has developed a project called “Building Counseling Services network for Dementia within municipalities all over Greece” which aims to provide care to people with dementia and education and support to their carers in the local communities.
The project is implemented in two phases:
PHASE A: April-October 2018: 133 health and social care professionals from the 55 municipalities from all over Greece participated in online synchronous and asynchronous training via virtual specially developed training platform. Training consisted of eight 2-hour classes, followed by practical on the job training at the Day Care Centers of Alzheimer Associations in Athens and Thessaloniki.
PHASE B: November 2018: 55 Dementia Counseling Centers will operate in participating municipalities staffed by their already trained personnel, offering:
● Programs for people with dementia: Memory Clinic (early diagnosis and effective follow-up), integrated non-pharmacological interventions
● Support groups, psychoeducational interventions and counseling services for carers
The objectives of the project are:
- To raise awareness and promote prevention of dementia in the public
- To decrease the stigma of the disease and organize dementia action groups in local communities
- To foster independence and autonomy of people with dementia with the use of new technologies
Greek Alzheimer Associations have committed to support the municipal Dementia Counseling Centers with regular visits of experienced health professionals, printed material, seminars and events for the first 2 years of operation.
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 is 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 environments, 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, neighbors, 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.