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  • Writer's pictureWorld Half Full

Inside the Memory Café


A “Memory Café” in the UK city of Bristol is helping people with dementia conquer isolation. Memory Cafés are a dementia-friendly social space, where people with memory loss and their carers can interact with a group of specially trained volunteers. These events typically consist of memory activities, music and, of course, plenty of food and drink. The aim behind the Memory Café is to support people in the local community with a dementia diagnosis, to prevent isolation and loneliness and, equally importantly, to provide support for their carers.

Janice, a carer for her mum, told The Bristol Post: “I’ve met lots of other carers and families who are in the same situation as me. When dementia is diagnosed you think you are the only one, but by coming to the Memory Café you discover what others are going through and you realise it is not just you. It makes you feel better to talk to someone who is going through it too.”

Memory Cafés exist all over the world. The first was created in the Netherlands in 1997 with coffee houses often used as venues for meetings. Also known as Alzheimer's Cafés or Dementia Cafés, they aim — not only to provide activities to aid memory loss — but also to facilitate the acceptance of dementia so that patients and their families feel compassion rather than exclusion.

Geoffrey Sellars and his wife Jan visit a Memory Café in Ulverstone, Tasmania. He told the ABC (Aust.) that they were “welcomed with open arms”. “Dementia is hard on a family. A place like this is just so friendly and it's really important. I can see how people could get isolated quite easily from dementia if there wasn't this support around.” Back in Bristol, more than 17,000km away, Janice agrees: “It is so beneficial for us because it is quality time you get to spend with others and your family — it is amazing to have this.”

ABOVE Memory Café, Cary, North Carolina

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