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Memory Cafes Offer Connections to Those with Dementia and their Caregivers

For those looking for a social gathering for people with memory loss and their care companions, you can find this opportunity provided by Memory Cafes.

The Salem Council on Aging (CoA) runs monthly Memory Cafes currently at three locations on the North Shore; Chestnut Woods Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Saugus, Blueberry Hill Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Beverly, and Brentwood Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center in Danvers.

The Salem Council on Aging’s goal is to hold monthly Memory Cafes in their new facility. Rosanna Donahue is the Activities Director at Salem CoA and she hopes to start that schedule by September of 2018.  “You do not have to belong to the Salem CoA to participate in Memory Cafes. We welcome all.”

Memory Cafes are gaining traction in the United States with some 200 cafes now opened. The concept began in the UK in the late 1990s.

The idea behind Memory Cafes is that there can be a safe, supportive, and relaxed environment; one in which those affected by dementia can meet and share conversation. The meetings often include music, art, entertainment, and food.  It is a great place to go for those caring for a person with dementia, or for those concerned with their own memory losses.  The cafes offer a chance to meet other people affected by dementia.

Isolation and loneliness often accompanies living with any type of dementia. A Memory Café can help shoulder some of the burden and provide community activities and information for both the caregiver and the person with dementia.

Social workers or other professionals familiar with dementia typically run the cafes.

Michelle Jones is the Community Liaison with Marquis Health Services, which owns the three locations of Brentwood, Blueberry Hill, and Chestnut Woods.

At a recent Memory Café meeting at Brentwood, Michelle, who is certified by the Alzheimer’s Association, welcomed the group of participants who had arrived by van from the Salem CoA. A lunch was provided and Michelle presented on the topic of Communications in Dementia.

There are usually twenty to twenty-five people attending the Memory Café. The group this day at Brentwood were involved in Michelle’s presentation with active participation and discussions.

To learn more about the scheduled Memory Cafes, call the Salem Council on Aging at 978-744-0924. They can direct you to the locations of all upcoming meetings.  As previously noted, all are welcome.  If you wish to participate through the Salem CoA, free transportation by van from the CoA is provided to each of the Café locations.

Another note of interest is the June 11 (from 4pm – 6pm) training for caregivers at North Shore Elder Services – Understanding and Responding to Dementia Related Behavior. There will be a Dementia Specialist from the Alzheimer’s Association presenting.  The program is not appropriate for the person with dementia and is intended for caregivers only.  Pre-registration is required.  Call Kathy Perrella at North Shore Elder Services 978-624-2214, or the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline at 800-272-3900.  Check our website https://nselder.org/event/understanding-responding-to-dementia-related-behavior-a-training-for-caregivers/  for more information about the event.

 

Author Info

Jayne Girodat

Jayne Girodat is the Communications Specialist at North Shore Elder Services. Along with ten years in the position of Caregiver Support Specialist at another ASAP, Jayne was a long-distance caregiver to parents for the same amount of time. That experience serves as motivation to better understand the issues of aging and to engage people in conversations about those issues. Jayne's background in teaching contributes to her appreciation of social media as a tool to educate readers on aging concerns. "I love asking people questions. Everyone likes to be heard. When you ask and then listen, you'll find everyone has a story and some of those stories are gems. I think it is particularly important to hear the voices of our older adults. Those are the stories I really connect to and hope to bring to North Shore Elder Services' audience."

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