Two days on a bicycle across the stunning landscapes of the Trentino and Veneto regions to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease – these are the ingredients of PedalAlzheimer Fest 2019, an initiative organized by the nursing home in Levico Terme, in Trentino region, and supported by the Autonomous Province of Trento. Its goal is to reflect on the health, social and cultural issues that families are called to face when a loved one encounters Alzheimer’s disease.
An enthusiastic group of health professionals, social workers, civil society organizations and supporters of all ages gathered with their bicycles in Levico Terme, on 13 September, to venture out on a two-wheel journey. The final destination was Treviso, in Veneto region, the hosting city of Alzheimer Fest 2019 – a festival of debates, music and arts inspired by Alzheimer’s disease and the people affected by it, cherished by the motto: “the disease does not take life away”.
Escorted by the Italian Environment and Bicycle Federation (FIAB), the PedalAlzheimer Fest followed the Brenta bike route from Levico to Piazzola sul Brenta and then the Ostiglia cycle path to Treviso. Altogether they travelled 140 km, stopping at different nursing homes along the way where they were welcomed with open arms by nursing home clients, their families and local communities. Meeting the elderly was always the most touching moment, and thanks to special wheelchair bicycles designed for people with disabilities, the event was open to people with limited mobility.
Alzheimer’s disease, with its ethical, social, cultural, organizational and economic implications, represents one of the most significant challenges facing science, society and public health services. Dealing with Alzheimer’s disease today means not only supporting research in the medical and scientific fields, but also taking a broader view that includes and values the family and the social and cultural context of the person with Alzheimer’s disease.
The Trentino region has worked intensively over the years to strengthen the network connecting public entities, communities, service providers and civil society organizations to achieve supportive environments for people and families with Alzheimer’s disease. Mutual trust, and the acknowledgement that working in synergy brings opportunities for development and improvement, have grown gradually. By building on the skills, resources and experiences gained by local communities and decision-makers, the goal is to always place the person with Alzheimer’s disease, family members and caregivers at the centre of daily work.