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September 21 2013

World Alzheimer's Day: it is possible together

The experience of Sant'Egidio: the human relationship is the keystone

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On the occasion of the World Day dedicated to Alzheimer's disease, we have published the interview with the people in charge of the Alzheimer Centres of the Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome (Trastevere and Tor Bella Monaca) Antonella Madia and Flaminia Graziani. They have carried on for three years with this valuable experience of support for the elderly people with Alzheimer's disease and other cognitive disorders and they do it in the "special" style of the Community of Sant'Egidio: the human relationship as the keystone.

As Flaminia Graziani tells us: "We opened our centre of Tor Bella Monaca in Via dell'Archeologia, at the request of the other structures that deal with Alzheimer in the area. Many of our elderly people have come to us, after attending other centres, where they had been assessed as too severe. The elderly suffering from cognitive syndromes suffer greatly. They feel constantly tested and they areoften distressed because they realise they can no longer perform many tasks of daily life, even very simple activities and  this depresses and mortifies them. However, amazing rehabilitation results are obtained through affection, a serene atmosphere and certainly a lot of professionalism, as in the case of  Maria, who had stopped using her hands, but we were successful in making her start to use them again kneading pizza during the  cooking workshop!”. The activities of the two centres usually take place in the afternoon or on official holidays, to meet the needs of families, and they are divided into cooking workshops, gardening, antique furniture restoration, decoupage and much more. Antonella Madia tells us about the Trastevere Centre: “The programming of the activity involves a preliminary assessment work of the residual capacities of the elderly; we have no particular constraints and therefore we can afford individualised rehabilitation plans, as in the case of Giacomo, who was a furniture restorer and has begun again to perform this activity , which has always been his passion. Another important fact is the motivation involved in the activities: the elderly know that their handmade work will be useful to others or anyway they represent a bond of solidarity with someone less fortunate than us, as in the case of African children with AIDS or of elderly patients in nursing homes, for whom we organise charity sales. The serene atmosphere in which the activities take place is also important. As Silvana told us:  "This is precisely a wellness centre ... wellness of the spirit!! "

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