By Max Wallack
Puzzles to Remember
Memory Cafes have been very popular for some time in Great Britain, and now they are becoming much more popular in the United States. They are friendly gatherings of Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers.
In many ways, they are not unlike Adult Day Care, except there is one important difference. The person with Alzheimer's attends TOGETHER with their caregiver.
Many Alzheimer's patient balk at the idea of attending Adult Day Care. They may feel frightened, or they may resent being "sent away". However, these same individuals usually love to attend the Memory Cafes because they view them as inclusive social outings.
Once at these cafes, the Alzheimer's patients quickly make friends and engage in simple activities, games, or puzzles with their peers. Meanwhile, caregivers have the wonderful opportunity to talk to other caregivers, receiving much needed advise and emotional support.
Many facilities like libraries are more than willing to "loan" the use of their facilities for this purpose.
My friend, Carole Larkin, who is a Geriatric Care Manager in Dallas Texas, has authored a "How To" manual for those interested in beginning a Memory Cafe in their area. Carole has posted this manual on her site: www.ThirdAgeServices.com. She has also compiled a list of current Memory Cafes in the United States.
In Carole's words,
" in my opinion Adult Day Cares and Memory Café’s are vastly different. Here’s how:
At day cares, the person with a cognitive illness is dropped of at the day care for a day or maybe a half a day, then the caregiver leaves. At a Memory Café, the caregiver and the person with dementia are together the whole time. And the whole time is an hour and a half, maybe 2 hours but that’s pushing it. I have never seen a Memory Café where the caregiver and the person with dementia split up."
Here is a link to her booklet "Want to Start a Memory Cafe in Your Neighborhood?"
Here is a link to the current memory cafes in this country: Memory Cafes
You may also contact Carole Larkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is available for individual consultations. Her experience is vast, and her advice is invaluable.
Max Wallack is a student at Boston University and a Research Intern in the Molecular Psychiatry and Aging Laboratory in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine. His great grandmother, Gertrude, suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Max is the founder of PUZZLES TO REMEMBER. PTR is a project that provides puzzles to nursing homes and veterans institutions that care for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.