By Hilary Lee ©Dementia Care International
In May 2009, I was delighted to be invited as a Keynote speaker at the 21st Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International, giving three presentations to people from over 70 countries around the world.
My presentations included the arts, Spark of Life and ‘Dementia Beyond Drugs’ with Dr Al Power from the United States. My plenary session covered the arts in dementia, incorporating my positive experiences of introducing Spark of Life as a way of eliciting the full potential of each participant. I believe I am the first person to have trialled this approach with the arts and I can see a powerful potential for Spark of Life in this field.
The ‘Dementia Beyond Drugs’ presentation attracted most of the conference participants and led to some lively discussion. My co presenter was Dr Al Power, a medical practitioner specialising in non-pharmacological interventions and the only medical practitioner in the world who is also an Eden Mentor. He is a particularly strong advocate for Spark of Life and sees this approach as part of a new dawn in dementia care, providing renewed hope for people with dementia and their families. This was confirmed by comments from Dr Richard Taylor who has dementia and was presenting at the conference.
I had many people approach me to discover more about Spark of Life and how they could bring Spark of Life to their countries. I had some wonderful support and encouragement from people in Australia too, including the Honourable Emeritus Professor Peter Baune and Professor Ralph Martins who commented;
‘Thank you for your excellent presentations which I enjoyed tremendously at ADI in Singapore. I was very proud to see a young West Australian having such impact on the global Alzheimer community through your most inspirational work. Well Done!’
Al Power and I also had an enthusiastic response to a presentation at Changi Hospital from the medical and rehabilitation team who were particularly interested in how non-pharmacological approaches such as Spark of Life could reduce the excess use of psychotropic medications for people with dementia.
I also had the pleasure of meeting, and rock-and-roll dancing beside Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, Founder and President of Alzheimer’s Disease International. Princess Yasmin, the daughter of film legend Rita Hayworth who also had Alzheimer’s disease, has established a worldwide network to coordinate Alzheimer’s research. It was an absolute honour to be involved in such an important event and play an active part of improving the lives of people with dementia around the world.
Hilary Lee , President of Spark of Life, Researcher & Co Developer, The Society for the Arts in Dementia Care (Australia) Inc.