SCENIC Rim residents living with dementia are set to benefit from a Memory Cafe opening at The Centre Beaudesert on February 1.
The concept is based on the first ever Alzheimer Cafe, which was established by a doctor in the Netherlands in the late 90s.
Centacare’s dementia strategy manager Ann Donaghy said she was excited about the launch of the Memory Cafe, which would operate on the first Friday of every month between 9am and 12pm.
“The purpose of the cafe is to build social networks, for people to talk to others and get to know others,” she said.
“Beaudesert will be our sixth Memory Cafe and what we’ve found with the others is that they provide an opportunity for people to talk, get to know each other and form friendships.”
Ms Donaghy said the Memory Cafes not only provided a safe environment for dementia clients and their carers to enjoy an outing and connect with others but also helped to reduce the stigma associated with dementia.
Beaudesert carer Betty Moore said she had often felt isolated and sometimes found it difficult to take her husband out by herself.
Ms Moore said her husband was 75-years-old and had been diagnosed with dementia about seven years ago.
“It’s only his brain that’s gone, his body is fine and I can’t hound him – if he wants to take off he is going to do it,” she said.
“I do have help at home, and because we have someone from Centacare who comes to the house a couple of times a week from 9am to 3pm I do get a break.”
“The nice thing about the Memory Cafe is going out together and not having to always feel the need to apologise to people.”
Another carer, Gloria Couper, said she had been caring for her older sister Janice Amarel since she was 13-years-old.
“I am so grateful for the help we get at Centacare, I don’t know what we would do without them,” she said.
“It has already made a difference to Jan just coming here but to be able to go to a normal cafe is going to be amazing.”
Ms Couper said her sister would have remained isolated if not for local support.
“Before she would only ever go out to places she needed to go, like the doctors,” she said.
“The social side of it will be good for her – she loves to talk about what she’s done in her life. And she has done so much.”
Both agreed that interacting with other carers would be valuable, especially to help them understand what they can expect as their loved ones’ conditions progress.
Although not all cases of dementia progress in the same way, Ms Donaghue said there would be professional assistance at the Memory Cafe.
“There will be people who can help guide you and if you come up with a question we don’t have the answer for, we will find the information for you,” she said.