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A new type of cafe is springing up across the country. Memory Cafes (sometimes called dementia-friendly cafes), are places where people living with dementia and their caregivers/companions get together to support each other. The cafe can be a coffee shop, restaurant, library, community center, or other public meeting place. Participants meet weekly, monthly, or whatever works best for the group. Besides Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, some cafes are expanding to include those living with traumatic brain injuries.
What happens at a Memory Cafe?
Sometimes there’s no specific agenda, and people simply visit over a meal or a cup of coffee. Other cafes include a guest speaker, games, craft projects, musical entertainment, or other planned events.
Is there a cost for attending a Memory Cafe?
Cafes are typically free of charge (except for any beverages/food you choose to purchase). Donations may be requested for supplies or special programs.
How did Memory Cafes get started?
The first Memory Cafe began in the Netherlands in 1997. Dr. Bere Miesen, a psychiatrist and specialist in dementia, was concerned about the stigma associated with dementia. This was a way to bring it out into the open. The concept spread to other countries, and the first Memory Cafe was held in the United States in 2008.
What are the benefits of attending a Memory Cafe?
- Participants talk about personal concerns in a confidential, nonjudgmental setting.
- It helps with the loneliness and social isolation so common to people living with dementia.
- Community resources are shared such as respite care, adult day care, or housing options.
- People laugh and have fun together.
- It alleviates boredom and provides a break from the usual routine.
- Cafes generally have a resource person available who is trained and experienced in dementia care.
- You can share your personal experiences with others who are new to a dementia diagnosis.
How can I find a Memory Cafe near me?
Check out this site. Simply click the link to your state and you’ll see a listing of all current memory cafes in your area.
**Would you like to learn more about the experience of dementia? I encourage you to read this best-selling book. (Click on the image for more information.)