From the time of signing in until putting on a coat to leave, positive energy fills the room. Some will not remember the experience, but everyone seems to be having a good time.
These are LCS Northwest’s Pierce County Memory Cafés. They are monthly gatherings for people at all stages of dementia, care partners and volunteers. The first Memory Café opened in January at Elmer’s Restaurant in Tacoma. The second café opened in October at Gig Harbor.
The Harvester Restaurant at 5601 Soundview Drive in Gig Harbor will play host to Memory Cafés on the third Saturday of each month from 3 – 4:30 p.m. The cafés fall somewhere between a support group and going to coffee with friends. They started in Europe and are catching on in the United States.
“It’s a chance to socialize with people who understand and won’t mind or even notice if you’ve already told the same story,” said LCS Northwest’s Linda McCone, who organizes the events. Social gatherings are important for people with dementia and their care partners as they minimize effects of the disease. Unfortunately, social opportunities for them are scarce.
Kip and Sharon Coy live in Gig Harbor, but they make the monthly trip to Tacoma. They’re excited about a new Memory Café opening close to home. They plan to attend both.
Kip has Alzheimer’s disease. Sharon said he looks forward to the cafés, and enjoys the familiar friendly faces in the safe and understanding atmosphere. Sharon likes visiting with other caregivers. She often comes with questions, and when there isn’t an answer, McCone will find it for the next meeting.
“There is value in keeping our loved ones active,” Sharon Coy said. “For me, it’s a great way to share and search for information.”
Memory Cafés usually have an activity. At the September café in Tacoma, the activity was ice breaker BINGO. Everyone received a BINGO card, but instead of numbers, different traits are marked in each box. Examples include: traveled more than 20 miles to get here; plays a musical instrument; and lived in both North and South Dakota. When you find someone who fits the trait, they sign the square. Judging by the laughter, smiles and conversation, the activity was a hit. In the end, McCone declared everyone winners, and handed out chocolate.
The cafés feature a limited menu, and participants need to pay for their food. Coffee is provided. For more information, please contact LCS Northwest’s Linda McCone at 253-722-5691 or [email protected].