30th International Conference of ADI

Care, Cure and the Dementia Experience - A Global Challenge
15-18 April 2015, Perth, Australia

ADI and Alzheimer's Australia hosted the 30th International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International in Perth, Western Australia. The 1100 delegates included more people with dementia than at any previous conference, along with professional and family carers, researchers, clinicians, and staff and volunteers of Alzheimer associations. Delegates came from 48 countries across the world, including many from around Australia. The conference theme was Care, Cure and the Dementia Experience - A Global Challenge, reflecting the varied programme covering care, medical research and lived experience.

Official welcome

An official welcome to the country on behalf of the Nyoongar people was given by Dr Richard Walley, who said to attendees in his traditional language, “I want to give presenters ability to articulate messages in a clear manner and those who receive the message ability to pass it on and share,” and he passed on a message stick to the conference which was accepted by two attendees.

The first plenary presentation was by Edie Mayhew, who is living with dementia having been diagnosed at age 59, and her partner of 30 years, Anne Tudor, who spoke about their "bitter-sweet" journey with younger onset dementia.

Dr Serge Gauthier, from Montréal, Canada, outlined the latest developments in diagnosis and treatment, and Prof Martin Prince from King's College London spoke about risk reduction and the global nature of dementia in an ageing world, with prevalence being similar across low and high income countries.

Still Alice

Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns, one of the co-producers of the award winning Still Alice, spoke about how the film had been designed to shine a light on Alzheimer’s disease, but said it had not been an easy process. The original book by Lisa Genova had been rejected by 35 publishers and was eventually self-published, before becoming a best seller.

People living with dementia were heavily involved in the programme, speaking in several plenary and parallel sessions. Kate Swaffer, who is living well with Younger Onset Dementia, spoke about her work in developing and consulting on dementia friendly community projects around Australia and globally. She said a dementia friendly community was about respect, equality, accessibility, autonomy, inclusion and supporting the disabilities of people living with dementia.

Policy topics

Senator the Hon. Mitch Fifield, the Australian Government Assistant Minister for Social Services, opened day two of the conference. Senator Fifield outlined the major reforms the Australian government had made, speaking about the current commitment of the government to invest A$200 million into dementia research over 5 years, including an A$50 million National Dementia Research Institute.

Harry Johns, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association (US) and a member of the World Dementia Council, welcomed the global effort on dementia. He reiterated the commitment of the Council to finding an effective treatment by 2025, including by optimising the path of medicines from research to market and increasing the investment in dementia innovation. He also highlighted the need to work in low and middle income countries, where, worldwide, 71% of people living with dementia will be by 2050.

Marc Wortmann, Executive Director of ADI, committed to supporting the World Dementia Council by proposing a platform for discussion at ADI's international and regional conferences. Marc also outlined ADI's plans for raising awareness, creating dementia friendly communities and improving care policies.

NCD Dialogues

Two NCD Dialogues on shared risk factors and NCDs (non communicable diseases) in the workplace were held in collaboration with the NCD Alliance. There was a consensus on the need for dementia to be integrated into global and national public health programmes alongside other major NCDs.

Other sessions looked at how far we have come in the last 30 years, supporting and enabling people living with dementia, indigenous communities, awareness and stigma, community support and consumer education and training.

The conference also featured a vibrant exhibition area which included a dementia friendly Apartment for Life, a Healthy Brain Precinct, a bush garden and an interactive art studio, alongside care providers, Alzheimer associations and the display of poster presentations.

Carer of the year

The winner of the 2015 ADI-Home Instead Carer of the Year award was announced at the conference dinner. Keiko Matsushima from Japan received the award as the carer for her husband Kenji, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at the age of 58. Noriyo Washizu from Alzheimer's Association Japan explained that Keiko's "decade-long journey from isolation to social inclusion has had a dramatic impact on other people in Japan who were living with dementia in secrecy".

The Keys are in the Margarine

A moving play from New Zealand about dementia, The Keys are in the Margarine, marked the final plenary presentation. The closing ceremony included the handover of the ADI Chairmanship from Dr Jacob Roy to Glenn Rees, and ended with a final word from an Australian consumer.

The #ADI2015 hashtag gained over 3 million social media impressions over the course of the conference, and 45 news stories about conference presentations appeared across TV, radio, newspapers and online news sites in Australia. Many presentation slides from the conference are now available online.

ADI's thanks go to Alzheimer's Australia WA, Alzheimer's Australia, committee members, MCI, all of the sponsors, exhibitors, presenters and participants for contributing to a great conference.

Programme book, abstracts and slides

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