The Alzheimer’s Show takes place every year in London and it is usually in June. It also takes place in Manchester but as I have not attended that one I cannot really comment, but it might be fair to say that you can expect similar things to what I have described.
I attended The Alzheimer’s Show in 2017 on both Saturday and Sunday. My real interest in attending was linked to the treatment that we offer at our clinic, Phoenix Mental Health Services, called rTMS with Cognitive Training, being used on people with Alzheimer’s Disease. I went for work as the company who own the machine that carries out the treatment had a stand there and Dr Stoffels (the Old Age Psychiatrist who assesses and reviews our patients) was delivering a speech on the treatment.
Whilst travelling to Olympia London, I can say that there were a lot of signs directing people to the show and there were plenty of staff on hand. I think that people who were travelling with a family member or friend with dementia or someone with dementia would not have found the experience too stressful. Most people must book in advance to attend by paying on the website, the website then generates a ticket that you present to the staff before entering. Although it is not clearly stated on the website, I think that they do allow people to pay at the door (but I am not 100&% sure).
Both days were busy but, in my opinion, it was busier on the Sunday and generally in the afternoons. Not all the stands were set up first thing in the morning so it is probably best to arrive just after lunch. There was a café with some moderately priced food in the venue and there was also a Tesco a few minutes’ walk away. There were plenty of seats and staff on hand to help.
What to expect:
The venue is large and filled with stands promoting different products and services. Some of the stands/companies/services that were present included:
- Neuronix– rTMS with Cognitive Training as a treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease
- Re:Cognition Health: Clinical Trials
- Easy to use products to help make your friend or family member with dementia more comfortable, for example massage chairs and back rollers.
- Easy to understand products to keep your friend of family member engaged, for example board games, coloured mats etc. Four Seasons Healthcare often have a huge set up with an “interactive dementia experience”.
- Care homes and companies that you can use to recruit a carer.
- Free advice clinics with Admiral Nurses, Dementia Advisors and Dementia Specialists.
- A full day of talks from leading professionals and family carers on a wide range of topics.
There was of course more on offer, but this is the general gist of what you can expect to find at the event. We had a small stand with a small-scale replica of our machine to demonstrate how it works, we had research available to take away and most importantly, we were all available for friendly chats. There were only a few stands (the ones that sold take home products) that would encourage you to buy there and then whereas all the rest, including us, would ask to take your details down if you wanted a follow up. I truly believe that this method made it more comfortable for all the visitors and created a no pressure environment. I do not think The Alzheimer’s Show should be considered a sales tactic but better as an event that opens your eyes to all the new products and services out there and you can make the choice on whether it is worth it for you. Try to not forget that there are so many academics and professionals present to listen to you and give you the best advice possible, for free!
In addition to these chats you can have, you are given a bag of goodies complete with an itinerary. The goodies are not that exciting (a tote bag with pens and sweets) but it is helpful for putting all your leaflets in, but the itinerary is great because you can choose which talks you think may be of benefit to you and only attend those and spend the rest of the time walking around. Although I do not have a close family member with dementia, I still sat through some of these talks as they were helpful and made me more knowledgeable. The Q & A at the end were a real hit amongst the listeners and most of the talks were delivered on schedule.
I think that The Alzheimer’s Show is really good at targeting every single person that is dealing with a different stage of their own or loved one’s illness. There are tons of care homes present for those who are considering this as an option, it is great to have some of the best all under one roof so you can compare and ask all the questions. Most importantly, you can ask prices to see which ones are really in your budget. There are care providers present for those who need more support either as the current carer or the person with dementia themselves. Speaking to these companies at this event can give you a real feel on which ones you preferred. For those who are just starting to notice their memory difficulties progress or have just been diagnosed, there is so much advice to be given so that you feel like you have the best control possible on what is to come and keep yourself prepared.
The real benefits of The Alzheimer’s Show really depends on the number of companies and stands that are filled. It seems that this is not an issue and year upon year they use the same venue and fill it up. I did not attend this year’s event, but I heard good feedback from others.
Keeping all this in mind, I think it is worth going to The Alzheimer’s Show but keep an open mind and most importantly, do not rush into anything. Take all the leaflets possible and ask all the questions and only give your details if you really want too. The companies will try to follow up with you so if you are not interested, there is no point, and as long as you have their leaflets you can contact them. I also think that you should write all your questions down on a piece of paper prior to the event so you really feel like you have taken something away from the event, especially if there are no products or services that interest you.
Overall, the cost for the entry is not too high and there is a lot on offer, so if you think you can make it out there at least once I suggest that you do. Some people will find it is not for them because it is busy, and you may be queuing to speak to someone, but it is all a part of the culture of these events and should be expected beforehand. Because this event is targeted at people with dementia and/or their carers, a lot of care is taken to make sure it is dementia friendly.