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Memory Cafes Give Dementia Patients a Meaningful, Stress-Free Way to Connect

By | June 20th, 2019

Alzheimer’s patients near Buffalo, New York, now have a new place to hang out, listen to music, and grab a bite. It’s called The Memory Café – and it’s just one of many Alzheimer’s cafes cropping up around the country and world in recent years.

What Are Memory Cafes?

Also known as dementia or Alzheimer’s cafes, these gathering spots are engaging, supportive places for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia and their caregivers and friends to go, without having to worry about their symptoms being judged or misunderstood. Some people with Alzheimer’s display behaviors that make social settings uncomfortable for them. This can lead to isolation for people with dementia and their caregivers.

According to the National Alzheimer’s Café Alliance, where cafes can register and learn from one another, dementia cafes are not meant to be a support group, nor should they offer lectures or workshops on dementia. Rather, they’re meant as a welcome respite from the burden of the disease.

Dementia-Friendly Communities Destigmatize the Disease

The Memory Cafe in West Falls, New York, is held twice a month at a community arts center, and features live music and lunch for anyone who wants to visit. Visitors dance, tap their feet, sing along or just listen to the music, reports WIVB.com. The musical aspect is as therapeutic as it is entertaining. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, some patients become withdrawn and speak very little. But the music helps people with Alzheimer’s connect, and even gets some singing.

The first Alzheimer’s café started in The Netherlands in 1997 with the goal of destigmatizing the disease. The first memory café opened in the U.S. in 2008.

According to the latest Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures Report, one in 10 Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease. That’s 5.8 million people – and that number is expected to climb to 13.8 million by 2050. With more and more people receiving dementia diagnoses, it’s critical to find new ways to support this growing population.

Alzheimer’s cafes create dementia-friendly communities that take the stress out of going out in public and socializing. Staying involved and socially active is an important part of delaying Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms. Dementia cafes offer a supportive way for people with the condition to meaningfully engage with their community.

Dementia cafes are generally held once or twice a month at community centers, libraries, churches, senior centers or coffee shops.

How to Find a Memory Cafe Near You — Or Start Your Own

To find an Alzheimer’s café near you, or to look into starting your own, visit Alzheimerscafe.com, or reach out to your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter.

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3 thoughts on “Memory Cafes Give Dementia Patients a Meaningful, Stress-Free Way to Connect

  1. Hello,

    Thank you for helping to spread the word about Memory Cafes.

    Please consider not using the terminology of “Alzehimer’s patients”. Saying “someone who lives with dementia” is more respectful and puts the emphasis on the “person,” rather than the medical aspect of being a patient.

  2. I am 69 yrs old and at the early stages of Alzheimers. My name is Terri and I am a retired nurse.
    I am under the care of a neurologist, and presently on the Excelon patch.
    Family and even doctors will not talk to me about what is going on and what is to come. Everyone seems to either not want to upset me or maybe it’s themselves they don’t want to upset. Being a nurse….I know what is going on with my brain. I am looking for a group of people who live with “brain shrinkage”
    It would be so wonderful to talk to people who are in my situation. This seems to be a very lonely disease. Please, if you can, direct me to such a group.
    Thank you for reading this, and any light you can shine on such a group.

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