Alzheimer Europe is a non-profit organisation which aims to improve the care and treatment of Alzheimer patients through intensified collaboration between its member associations. In the longer term, AE is striving to become the coordination and information centre for all organisations working in this specific field, such as day care centres, sitting services, training centres for professionals and related organisations.
With the current steady increase in the life-expectancy of Europe''s population, the number of people affected by age-related disease such as Alzheimer''s disease and related disorders is forecast to increase dramatically in the next few years. More importantly, the majority of Alzheimer sufferers live at home and are cared for by their relatives and friends. Although many organisations are active in supporting them, carers often work alone, and lack in know-how and inspiration which could be given by others.
AE thus hopes, through its activities, to answer a growing need in society, and especially among the community of people affected by the existence of the disease. The exchange of experience and knowledge as well as collaboration on new approaches will stimulate and motivate these people. Further to this, it will ensure that information on best practice in the care of Alzheimer sufferers is available throughout Europe and beyond.A brief history of Alzheimer Europe
In 1990, representatives of the Belgian, Dutch, Irish and Spanish Alzheimer and dementia associations met in Louvain (Belgium) to discuss the possibility of setting up a network of European Alzheimer and dementia associations, which should focus on the exchange of information and experiences between countries with similar social and cultural systems.
Slowly, the organisation grew in membership and the annual meetings organised by the association attracted a growing number of participants. Thus, in 1996, Alzheimer Europe counted 20 member organisations from 16 European countries.
In 1996, the funding by the European Commission of specific Alzheimer projects allowed the organisation to successfully apply and carry out transnational European projects bringing together a number of national Alzheimer and dementia associations around common initiatives, such as:
the development of a Telephone Helpline Manual and a training programme for helpline operators,
the development of an Internet site of the organisation,
the drafting of a European Carers'' Manual, currently available in Danish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Turkish,
the drafting of a Children''s book, currently available in Danish, Flemish, French, German, Greek, Italian and Portuguese,
an inventory of legislation affecting people with dementia and their carers in the 15 Member States of the European Union.
These projects allowed Alzheimer Europe to further develop its network by employing staff based in Luxembourg and by encouraging a greater number of organisations to join the association, thus bringing the number of member organisations to 31 from 26 countries.