Advancing Dementia Strategy in Lithuania

My interest in dementia grew when I started to develop an accessible arts program, “Susitikime muziejuje” (Let’s meet at the museum). For the first time, people in Lithuania living with dementia (PLWD) and their care partners would have structured access to enjoy arts and creative practice in art museums. 

Despite my enthusiasm to advance accessible arts programming for PLWD, a common response was that arts can hardly be seen as a priority — that there are basic services that people should but cannot have. Indeed, dementia is far from being a public health priority in Lithuania. It is one of few countries in the European Union without a national dementia plan, dementia-related services are concentrated around patient care, and social care and support is fragmented.

Art museum Lithuania

As an Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health, I expanded my understanding of the different ways to affect dementia strategy. I invited professionals from diverse fields—including education, public health, health and social care, and health policy—and the PLWD and their carers to explore what should be in place to advance a change.

In this context we founded a national association “Dementia Lithuania” to represent PLWD and their carers, locally and internationally and built a project, “Towards Dementia Strategy: Situation Analysis and Public Awareness.”

This project, which is supported by the European Economic Area (EEA) financial mechanism and will be implemented in 2021-2023, aims to advance the national dementia strategy development and dementia advocacy in Lithuania by implementing objectives outlined by the World Health Organization: 1) To undertake a situation analysis; 2) To create recommendations for dementia strategy development; 3) To raise awareness around dementia in Lithuania. 

The strength of the initiative lies within a collegial, collaborative and cross-disciplinary approach. The experience in the arts and health work in Lithuania enabled me to create a partnership which indeed puts the person and their well-being at the centre of our work – be it a PLWD, a family member, a professional, or a person at risk of developing dementia.

Funding and Partners

“Towards Dementia Strategy: Situation Analysis and Public Awareness” is financed by the EEA Grants 2014-2021 through the Active Citizens Fund. The project is implemented by NGO “Socialiniai meno projektai” and the Association “Dementia Lithuania.” The project is led by Ieva Petkutė, Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at the Global Brain Health Institute. Partners: the Alzheimer Disease International, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Lithuania, the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Klaipėda region Alzheimer's community “Atmena”, Kaunas Alzheimer Club, Alzheimer Association of Iceland, The Lithuanian Public Broadcaster, Lithuanian Radio and Television. Supporters: The Vilnius City Municipality, The Tiltas Trust.

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