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What Is Memory Cafe?

“The Neighborhood Memory Café is that place where individuals with memory loss and their caregivers can get together in a safe, supportive, and engaging environment. It is a time and place where people can interact, laugh, cry, find support, share concerns and celebrate without feeling embarrassed or misunderstood. The Neighborhood Memory Café encourages friendship and acceptance.” (Neighborhood Memory Café Toolkit, 2012, Sydney Farrier, LCSW; Pam Kovacs; Carole Larkin, MA, CMC; Pat Sneller)

As a provider of in-home care services, our company assists clients and families with diverse levels of care that include companionship through respite, hygiene and shower assistance, meal preparation, feeding, dressing, household tasks, and more. While working with family members concern has been expressed with the behaviors that developed during the disease process. In my role as client care coordinator, I recognized the need to think creatively for extra support for in-home care.

At any given time, a person with a cognitive diagnosis, under the umbrella of dementia, can have an experience that is socially unacceptable or physically problematic in a public setting. The change in the brain and filter alter processes of public behavioral norms. Family and loved ones have recounted behaviors such as being in a restaurant and their partner gets up to eat something off of someone else’s plate or being in a grocery store and the loved one starts opening/eating an item off of a shelf. Situations like the previous two examples, and multiple more, open the door to facilitate the need of creative environments where all involved in the new life brought on by a dementia diagnosis can have an activity and outing that is centered on them.

Local Memory Café events are hosted by the Meridian Library on the 4th Friday of every month from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon and at the Eagle Library the 1st Wednesday of every month from 1:00-3:00 p.m. The gracious involvement and warm reception of the staff at both locations make every occasion that much more valuable. We are excited to work with both of these sites to grow on-going events for the community.

The Memory Café is free to the public and includes food, fellowship and interaction. Each month the event changes up by incorporating a speaker, a presentation, or a group activity. Participants have the opportunity to come and go freely based on need and can interact according to their own comfort zone.

To give you an idea of some of the past events, we have had pet therapy, live music from members of the Boise Blues Society, massage therapy, nutrition education, aroma therapy, holiday themes, and much more. Resources are another great time of personal sharing. Many, from their own experiences, offer up the different paths each have worked through on their own dementia journey. A wholesome conversation is a common enjoyment of the members. Memory loss does not have to be a deficit to lose social activity. The Memory Café is a comfortable venue where the concerns of being misunderstood are no longer a fear and all can feel welcomed.

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