A memory café is a social gathering where people with early Alzheimer’s or dementia or mild cognitive impairment and their caregivers can come together in a safe, supportive environment. Guests can share conversation over a cup of coffee in a relaxed, informal atmosphere, such as a community center, café or church. Memory cafes sometimes offer games and activities, music, and perhaps, an occasional outing. Some have educational resources, such as an Alzheimer’s expert, but others are purely social.
Caregivers often say that one of the hardest parts of dealing with dementia and other memory loss is the absence of the normal interactions they once had. Memory cafés are a break from the routine. They aim to restore normalcy and fun to caregivers and their loved ones. Although a memory café is a place to go where others are dealing with similar issues, it is not meant to be a support group.
Memory cafes were invented by Dr. Bère Miesen, a Dutch psychologist who understood the need for social connection when he opened the first such café in Holland. The idea is now gaining traction in the US, where close to 100 cafés have opened in cities and towns across the nation.
The first memory café in the United States is J. Arthur’s in Roseville, Minnesota. The group meets twice monthly and has events including live bands and even Wii bowling tournaments (see yesterday’s post about the advantages of video games for seniors.) To see what a Memory Café is like, you can watch this video from one of their meetings.
To find a memory café near you or to start one:
- Memory Café Catalyst Project
- Alzheimer’sand Memory Cafés in the U.S.A.
- Third Age Services: MemoryCafés
- MemoryCafes in the DC area
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