EUGMS in Cologne

Dr Riitta Antikainen is a member of the EUGMS Board representing Finland. She is the manager of the EUGMS blog

In an airplane somewhere between Helsinki and Oulu, back from Cologne on the way home,  to Oulu on March the 6th 2013.

What did I do in Cologne? I participated the EUGMS full board meeting, where I  was representing Finnish Society of Gerontology.

The president of EUGMS, and the chair of the meeting, Prof Jean-Pierre Michel together with the Executive Board and our Futures Strategy Group, had brought a lot of new ideas of how to develop the Society to serve its members better, ie, geriatricians in the area of European Union and EFTA according to the principles which you can find on the “our mission” section on the EUGMS web pages.  How can we reach in a more effective way our members and especially trainees, the forthcoming geriatricians? Could our net pages be a forum to give information about most recent research news, national or international practices or innovations or to give new ideas for making a better life for the ageing people of European? Everybody does not need to discover the wheel once again.  One of these ideas was also to start this EUGMS blog to tell to the members about things happening in and around the Society. Two brave members, Des O´Neill and I, had the courage to take the challenge – this is the story of this blog. New ideas are welcome!!!

Back to Cologne, where Professor Ralf-Joachim Schulz had invited us. He hosted the meeting in the St. Mariens Hospital where he was working 12 hours in a day. The first nurses in this 140 year-old hospital were Holy Franciscan Sisters. Now it is a modern geriatric center. There seems to be a very active research programme in the hospital. Pity,  that  we did not have time to get to know the hospital better!  However, one place in particular was close to Professor Schulz’s heart. He guided us upstairs up to the roof of the old building. Instead having a rehabilitation room inside, they had the complete rehabilitation environment on the roof. Old Cologners come with their frames and therapists to the roof. There was enough space to practice; there were paths with different kind of surfaces to walk and to strengthen the balance.  Or they can take a rest and a cup of coffee while sitting at one of the tables built on the roof. Soul and mind are rehabilitated by the view, on the left side  runs “Der Rhein” Rhine and on the right side they can see the towers of Kölner Dom, the two most important symbols of the city. Thank you to Professor Schultz and his personnel!

But the meeting was not just to see Rhine and Dom. Among other things, we  also had to decide the venue of EUGMS congress in 2015, after Venice and Rotterdam and… We were treated to very high quality of presentations given by candidate national societies, Austria and Norway. So much work was done for the plans, so much work to achieve a congress. It is not just a matter of planing sessions, inviting speakers, organizing exhibitions and poster presentations. You have to know how people reach the venue, where do they stay during the visit, what does it cost and is breakfast included to the room price. How can visitor get WiFi and where can they find their dinner?  A big congress is not only to participate in a high quality programme but organizers also like to present the best aspects of their home country, history, attractions, culture, the best local cuisine. They also will provide places and social occasions for visitors to learn to know colleagues from different countries, to network.

This all is possible already this autumn in Venice, at the 2013 Autumn Congress.

There is such dense snowfall in Oulu that the plane is not yet allowed to approach Oulu airport, we have to stay up and wait that the snowfall passes to east. Two English speaking men behind me are worried, you can see nothing, the world outside the window is white. But snow does not belong to the list of things that hinders air transport in Finland! Ten minutes later the airplane is approaching and I have to switch off the computer. I do not understand how the pilot found the city! Temperature is -7C in the home city of the most northern full board member.

In Cologne, the temperature was +10Cƒ, people were sitting at Rhine having their lunch (from “Potato Point”), grass was already green in some sunny places and crocuses were budding. This is Europe, we all are European!