The Memory Cafe (also called Alzheimer’s Cafe) movement is growing, I am happy to report.
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Memory cafe's are places where persons with dementia, Alzheimer's and memory loss issues, and their care partners (spouse, children or others taking care of them), can get together for camaraderie with other people who are going through similar experience.
They are places where people feel at ease with the disease and with each other. There is no stigma -- only acceptance.
The cafes are sometimes started by people just like you and me.
The basic idea of a place to meet was put out there and people have made it their own. There are cafés of all shapes and sizes. Some are purely social, some have an educational component, and some have a mix of both social and educational.
Some are arts oriented, some take trips to local places of interest, and and others use the available services in their area to add variety to their core - the memory cafe.
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The café’s meet in a variety of locations, whatever works for that group. Locations I know about include coffee shops and restaurants, senior centers, libraries, churches, museums to name a few.
The number of times they meet each month often varies. Meeting times also vary. I have seen times going from one hour, to one and a half hours, to two hours, to café with no official end times. The cafes are held mornings, afternoons and even in the evening.
Usually there is a little something to eat or drink, as after all, it’s a café.
Sometimes the place where it is held provides the snacks, sometimes local sponsors provide the snacks, and sometimes participants provide the snacks (or at least contribute to someone buying the snacks).
Sometimes people just sit and chat with each other, sometimes there are games available to play or puzzles to jointly do (such as Springbok’s/Max Wallach’s Puzzles to Remember”) and sometimes there are planned activities or projects to do.
Sometimes there is a “professional” in attendance and sometimes not. I feel safe in saying that persons in the early or early in the middle stages are generally the people attending the cafes.
I also feel safe in saying that there are lots of smiles and laughter.
There are three websites that list the current locations of Memory or Alzheimer’s Cafes in the United States. You can go to my website, www.thirdageservices.com, to Lori LaBey’s website, www.alzheimersspeaks.com or Jytte Lokvig’s website, www.alzheimerscafe.com.
We now have a lady, Debora Tingley, who calls herself a Memory Café Catalyst (I love that!) who is researching and compiling Memory and Alzheimer’s café’s for us and will distribute updates to us on a periodic basis so that we will be more current in our lists.
It’s hard to keep up with café’s opening and sadly, sometimes closing. Debora’s website is www.memorycafecatalyst.org. At the moment I am showing 82 café’s in the USA!!!
If you feel inspired to start your Memory Cafe, and I really hope that you do, you can find on a “toolkit” on my website which you can download and use as a foundation for starting your own Café.
I know that Jytte is working on one too, and I hope that it will be available to you soon.
Why not consider it, especially now, during world Alzheimer’s month? You’ll be happy that you did.
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Carole Larkin MA, CMC, CAEd, DCP, QDCS, EICS is an expert in Alzheimer’s and related Dementias care. She also is a Certified Geriatric Care Manager who specializes in helping families with Alzheimer’s and related dementias issues. Carole can consults with families via telephone nationwide on problems related to the dementia. Her company, ThirdAge Services LLC, is located in Dallas, TX.
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