Manfred Bergener, MD, Founding President of the International PsychoGeriatric Association (IPA)

Published Monday, May 20, 2019

 MANFRED BERGENER (1936-2019)

 Dr. Professor Manfred Bergener, Inspirationalist, visionary and first President of the International Psychogeriatric Association (1982-1987), died in March 2019, in   Koln, Germany.

 

 Dr. Prof. Bergener agreed to assume leadership of this fledgling organization at a Congress in Cairo, Egypt in November 1982. At that time, several prominent leaders   in the small field of geriatric mental health did not believe that the time was right to form an international organization. Moreover, there had been a recent flareup   between Israel and the neighboring countries which reached its zenith at the time of the Congress.

 

 Nevertheless, despite these tensions and the fact that IPA had no funds, no paid membership and lacked an organizational structure, Dr. Bergener’s vision, energy, and commitment allowed IPA to survive and thrive.

 

He espoused three basic principles:

  1. IPA would address the “nation of older people.” Whether in Toronto, Teheran, Tel Aviv or Timbuctoo, older people experienced dementing illnesses, depression, psychosis, adjustment disorders, or serve as a models of successful aging. Therefore, IPA would not allow geographic, political or religious differences to interfere with our focus on the “aging nation.”
  2. Our emphasis would be “holistic” (“biopsychosocial”). We would focus on all elements from basic science through clinical care to systems of service delivery, incorporating training models and the latest research in all areas.
  3. IPA would not limit itself to only one illness. Our focus would be broad, and we would stress the interrelationship between illnesses, such as depression in dementia, or psychological reactions to medical co-morbidity.

Under Dr. Bergener’s leadership, IPA established a Newsletter in 1983. As Medical Director of Rheinische Landesklinic in Cologne, he organized the first IPA Regional meeting in 1984.

 

Under his leadership and direction, over the next five years IPA held Congresses in Umea, Sweden; Chicago, USA; and Tokyo, Japan. We also brought regional workshops to Paris, Vienna, Budapest, and Toronto. Through Dr. Bergener’s initiative, he consummated an agreement with Springer to publish an IPA Journal, International Psychogeriatrics, and appointed Gene Cohen as the initial editor. This successful Journal has achieved high success and continues into its fourth decade.

 

In 1989, Dr. Bergener arranged for Bayer to support a Research Award. Several young recipients have evolved into major leadership roles in their fields and in their countries.

 

Following his retirement from the Board of Directors, Dr. Bergener organized the highly successful Congress in Berlin in 1993.

 

He was also a man of the arts - an accomplished drawer/sketcher, and an art collector, as well as a man with an extensive knowledge of a wide range of music.

 

Without Dr. Bergener, it is unlikely that IPA would have survived for very long. He brought a European presence, an understanding of the need for communication among the leaders in the field to understand their common problems from different perspecitives and experiences, his scientific and clinical perspectives, and the vision of what was needed to position an organization to grow into a future and address the growing need of mental health in the elderly.

 

Through his early efforts and the development of an intact infrastructure, IPA lives today at 37 years old.

 

Manfred Bergener is survived by his wife, Uta, three daughters - Silke, Henrike and Anja, and three granddaughters – Paula, Julia and Sophia.

 

image credit: http://www.prof-manfred-bergener.de/