The virtual conference lobby of the 34th International Conference of ADI

ADI Conference 2020

The 34th International Conference of Alzheimer's Disease International was held virtually on December 2020.

ADI 2020 took place on 10-12 December 2020. Originally scheduled to take place in Singapore, in March 2020, the international conference was moved to a virtual format due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first time that ADI has hosted its international conference online.

The 34th Virtual International conference was attended by approximately 1,600 delegates from over 100 countries and included people living with dementia, caregivers, researchers, clinicians, as well as other staff and volunteers of various Alzheimer and dementia associations. Centring on the theme of ‘Hope in the Age of Dementia’, the conference aimed to present hope through new science, new knowledge and new solutions around dementia.

Because of its virtual format, ADI 2020 boasted a wealth of delegates and representatives from numerous organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and more.

To pay homage to ADI 2020’s original scheduled location of Singapore, the conference platform and some of its content paid tribute to Singaporean culture, a trivia about Singapore from Stanley Ho of Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA) and a video of the ‘Sing Out Loud’ project in the opening ceremony.

The President of Singapore, Mdm Halimah Yacob, opened up ADI 2020, saying:

Dementia is not a battle to be fought alone. It heartens me to know that all of you – researchers, scientists, clinicians, allied healthcare professionals, care professional and volunteers – work together with people living with dementia, their family members and their caregivers. This inclusiveness is proof that the global dementia community has made great strides forward. And when the world pulls along towards a common goal, there are no limits to what we can achieve together.

ADI also heard from its ambassadors, Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, the former President of Costa Rica; Their Majesties Queen Sofia of Spain and Queen Silvia of Sweden. The conference also received blessings from His Holiness Pope Francis, who wished for a “successful and inspiring virtual event”, as well as an Apostolic Blessing for all of those attending and are working for the wellbeing and support of those affected by dementia.

Though online, the conference made sure to include activity breaks during and after some of the longer sessions, so as to keep delegates moving. This included brain gym exercises and a Poco-poco dance from Alzheimer’s Indonesia (ALZI), chair yoga with Alzheimer & Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI) and Zumba with Alzheimer’s and Dementia Association of the Cayman Islands (ADACI).

Available content from ADI 2020

In response to an overwhelming interest in the availability of ADI 2020's most popular and informative sessions, a selection of plenary and parallel sessions, on-demand content and workshops will be released every Wednesday from 24 March to 12 May. The first available session is 'Plenary 1 - Dementia: why we must do more'.

Plenary session and exhibition

The conference adapted a new approach towards its programme for 2020, building around the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Global action plan on dementia, with diverse international keynote speakers delivering plenary sessions for each of the seven action areas of the plan: increased dementia policy, awareness, risk reduction, diagnosis, treatment, care and support, support for carers, information systems and research. Additional sessions were also added around COVID-19 and dementia-related design.

Because of the conference’s virtual format, ADI 2020 was  able to host more poster presentations than ever before, as well as an abundance of exhibition stands. There was also the opportunity for some ADI Members and sponsors to showcase their work through the Programme and Product showcases. ADI was additionally proud to launch its Accreditation Programme for dementia care skills training programmes.

Hope in the Age of Dementia

On the second day of the conference, ADI and ITN Productions held a film showcase for the documentary-style film Hope in the Age of Dementia. First released in September during World Alzheimer’s Month, the film focuses on the latest advances in care, research, and technology, while showcasing organisations which are driving change and innovation around the world.

The film showcase featured a discussion between ITN news anchor Sharon Thomas and ADI CEO Paola Barbarino, as well as additional interviews around some of the film’s participants.

Closing message

The conference came to an end with a powerful message around the importance of maintaining hope for people living with dementia and their caregivers, particularly during a year fraught with difficulties and new learning obstacles.

In closing remarks, Rohani Rahmat shared the journey of her husband, Mohamed Said, and his diagnosis with vascular dementia. Talking about their experience of joining ADA’s Voices for Hope programme, Rohani said:

People living with dementia and their care partners not only need to be sympathised but to be empathised. Being acquainted with other participants brought joy in our lives as we are frank with our sharing – it brings smiling and laughter with each session. Each session is very inspiring and motivating. … I realised I am not alone in struggling with my journey to cope in caregiving.

Before the conference was adjourned, Noriyo Washizu of Alzheimer’s Association Japan (AAJ) played the piano to Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World, where the ADI staff joined in a remote sing-a-long.

ADI extends a special thanks to ADA for their support in organising the first virtual international conference of ADI, as well as all of the committee members, presenters and delegates for contributing to a great conference.

ADI is also grateful for the support of The HEAD Foundation, Eisai, TauRx Therapeutics, Biogen, Otsuka, Grifols and the other sponsors and exhibitors.

Programme and abstract book

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