Jun 4, 2012

Dallas' First Neighborhood Memory Cafe Opens This Week

Dallas’ first Neighborhood Memory Café will come into existence at 10:00 am June 7th, 2012.

By Carole B. Larkin
Alzheimer's Reading Room

It started as the dream of a phenomenal woman, Pat Sneller. Pat’s husband Lee has early onset Alzheimer’s, and for the past several years they have been vocal advocates for the concept of having a good life after the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

They did this under the auspices of the Dallas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. They were members of a “Trailblazer’s group”, a group of couples; partners; etc… with one of the couples having early stage Alzheimer’s or related dementias.

In the group as persons with a dementia continued on with their diseases, they would drop out, thus whittling away at the number of group members.

Eventually the group would cease to exist, leaving persons with the diseases and their caregiver/partners nowhere to go to socialize with others living with similar circumstances.

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Pat wanted to start a Memory Café for those families, including herself and Lee, to continue to be able to meet with others on a social basis, just to share their lives, good and bad.

Pat lobbied the Dallas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association for a year, getting no response to her pleas. Eventually she quit trying. I was visiting with her and in our conversation she told me the story about the hoped for Memory Café.

Dallas is fortunate to have a number of professionals who feel strongly about helping persons with dementia and their families to have as many good moments as is possible. Pat and I decided to contact several of them to see if they were interested in forming a committee to get the first Neighborhood Memory Café going.

Everyone we contacted enthusiastically said “Yes”, and before long the six of us were meeting, discussing visions, laying out plans, securing a venue for it (a senior center), securing coffee and snacks, finding engaging activities for those who may get bored with just socializing and discussing ways to let the public know about the Café.

The Dallas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association was eventually asked if the wished to attend and they did do so. As it turned out they just had been awarded a grant for a pilot project for testing if socialization improved lives of persons with Alzheimer’s.

We became one of their projects for the length of the grant. We mostly wanted them to spread the word about the existence of the Café on their web page and by telling their support group facilitators to spread the word to their support group members.

Unfortunately, as of this moment, the Dallas chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association has yet to do either, to our knowledge. We hope that they do so in the very near future.

We are working on a zero budget.

Therefore, I’m asking the collective brain of the Alzheimer’s Reading Room to think about who they know, and ask their friends to think about who they know in Dallas who might benefit by coming to the Café. We’d love to see a great attendance for the start up.

If we can get this off the ground, we intend to then write up instructions or a “go-by”, if you will, to distribute free to anyone who wants to start a neighborhood café in their neighborhood. Our goal is to have the Café’s be grass roots organizations, as close as possible to no cost and everywhere in Dallas, and in the rest of the US (or the world!).

Please share this information with the Alzheimer's community in the Dallas area. If you are in support group, or moderate a support group, please join us on Thursday.

Thanks in advance for your help.

When: First Thursday of each month beginning June 7, 2012

Time: 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Where: Richardson Senior Center820 Arapaho Road, Richardson, TX
Phone (972) 744 – 7800

Who: Individuals with Early to Moderate Alzheimer’s and their Care Partners

What: Socialization and Stimulation. Networking for Care Partners.

Why: Being active physically, socially, and mentally is good for the brain.

Share your stories and socialize with others who are living a similar journey with dementia.

Contact Sydney Farrier (469) 853-9750 for additional information.

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Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room