I have previously described my experience three years ago visiting the groundbreaking concept known as a “dementia village” in the Netherlands.  Another wonderful concept introduced in the Netherlands in 1997 is the “Memory Café”.  The Memory Cafe offers social activities for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia — and their caregivers. Activities include art, music, poetry, presentations and social interaction.

While a Memory Cafe is beneficial for those living with dementia, it is also beneficial for their caregivers as well. It is not a place to “drop off” your loved one for a while, but a way to enjoy activities with them as a break from the normal routine that you share.  A Memory Cafe is a safe and comfortable space where caregivers and their loved ones can socialize, listen to music, play games, and enjoy other appropriate activities. They provide mutual support and exchange information. This by itself is valuable if for nothing more than to obtain information about additional resources.  They can simply enjoy the company of those with similar things in common.

Activities are varied, but tend to focus on topics that are apt to cause one to reminisce about times gone by. That “connection” to the past can be as comforting as it is medically beneficial. Emphasis is often placed on activities where humor can be a central part of the enjoyment.

There are more than 800 regular gatherings around the country listed in the Memory Cafe directory, including locally at the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, NJ .   For more information or to register, contact Reva Farenback-Brateman at 856-424-1333 ext. 1184 or rfbrateman@jfedsnj.org.   The program is brought to the community through a collaboration of JFCS, JSHHS, and the Katz JCC.

Finding Connections And Comfort At The Local Cafe