A week of Dementia in the Danube region

Within the Interreg INDEED project, which has started on 1 July, the NPO & SE Competence Center provides business-related knowledge in order to reach improvements in the field of dementia in Central and Eastern European countries. Stimulating (social) entrepreneurial activity depicts one of three building blocks aiming to close gaps in the supply of dementia-related services.

At the Interreg INDEED Kick-off meeting in Munich, one of the key topics was how to enhance dementia-friendly societies in Central and Eastern Europe. For two days, an interdisciplinary team worked on this and further related questions in the field of dementia diagnosis, therapy, and care. Christian Schober, Katharina Weberberger, and Constanze Beeck represented the NPO & SE Competence Center.

Results from a preliminary survey conducted by the NPO & SE Competence Center disclose, amongst others, a pronounced divergence between urban and rural areas (with largely insufficient supply in the latter), late or absent diagnosis (which limits possibilities for therapy), and a lack of alternative care settings as key challenges. In order to tackle these challenges, bringing together all involved professions and stakeholders appears to be an important step.

The second stop leads us to Graz, where Christian Schober and Katharina Weberberger attended a Conference on the Austrian Strategy for Dementia "Gut Leben mit Demenz". One critical step in creating dementia-friendly societies is raising awareness both among decision makers and the general public. In this regard, the BMASK has recently published a guide for employees in public transport how to support passengers with forgetfulness. More information on the Austrian Strategy for Dementia may be obtained from https://www.demenzstrategie.at/.

On the third and last stop in Ljubljana, Christian Schober and Katharina Weberberger attended the ASK 2018 Conference by Spominčika (Slovenian for forget-me-not flower). Dementia and the "fear that the body survives the brain" are major societal issues, and accordingly increasing attention is paid to both prevention and early diagnosis. As outlined by Zvezdan Pirtošek, potentially modifiable risk factors involve low educational level in childhood, hearing loss, hypertension, obesity, smoking, depression, physical inactivity, social isolation, and diabetes. For example, research shows that learning another language may delay the onset of dementia by several years.

The INDEED project is a great opportunity to collectively work on improvements in the field of dementia. News and further details of the project may be obtained from www.interreg-danube.eu/approved-projects/indeed.

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