Aleš Kogoj, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University in Ljubljana, was born in 1962. He studied medicine and later specialized in psychiatry both in Ljubljana. Since 1986, he was working at the University Psychiatric Hospital in Ljubljana at the Unit for Gerontopsychiatry of which he became Head in 2000. He also held the post of the Associated Professor of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine of the University in Ljubljana.
Still early in his professional career, he became aware of the fact that carers of people with dementia are left more or less on their own and are in acute need of support. For that reason, in 1997 he founded Spominčica (named after the flower forget-me-not) – the Slovenian association for patients with dementia and their carers, following the example of other European countries. Spominčica later became a member of Alzheimer Europe and Alzheimer Disease International. Until last year, he was the president of the Association Spominčica, but because of numerous other professional obligations, handed over the management to his colleagues, while he retained the post of the honorary president of the Association.
For his endeavours and successes in the field of dementia in Slovenia he can certainly be called a pioneer in this field. He also published several professional and scientific papers on the topic.
In 1999, a counselling telephone service and helpline for carers was established in the frames of Spominčica and a newsletter with the same title started to be published. Aleš Kogoj worked with dementia patients and their carers all over Slovenia and soon established a widespread network of Spominčica members, and later local Spominčica groups.
For 25 years, he was holding lectures about dementia and about patient care all over Slovenia. He was an excellent diagnostician and an engaged and patient listener in the process of helping dementia patients themselves as well as their carers. His preparedness to listen and help in all circumstances and at any time was outstanding. In recent years, with his support and help, Spominčica succeeded to raise awareness about dementia in Slovenia substantially.
He was also a passionate mountain climber. In the beginning of July 2014, he fell to his tragic death during one of his climbing trips to the Alps, in the middle of his working career and plans, at only 52 years of age.
All individual members and local groups of Spominčica will try to follow his example and continue with his endeavours in the field of dementia awareness and support.