I am sure that you never imagined that you would one day become the primary caregiver for a parent with Alzheimer's Disease. Your days are jam packed with doctor's appointments and personal care tasks. You've found that taking a parent with Alzheimer's on an outing can be challenging; perhaps you've given up. You've both become a little lonely and isolated. This bleak scenario doesn't have to be your reality. A fun, innovative outlet for alzheimer's patients and their caregivers is popping up all over the country (& world!)...The Alzheimer's Cafe.
The Alzheimer's Cafe movement started in the Netherlands in 1997 and has quickly been gaining popularity in Europe, the US and Canada. Today, more than 200 cafes exist across Europe. The first US cafe event was held in 2008 at the College of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Elsewhere, the cafes thrive in museums, adult day care centers, worship centers, and hospitals throughout many states, including California, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington.
What is the Alzheimer's Cafe?
Essentially, its a support group and social event combined. In one sense, they serve to bring people together with similar circumstances to share, support and lessen the stigma of the disease. The cafes have improved upon the traditional support group by incorporating recreation and entertainment. Similar to what you might find at a regular cafe, these gatherings are upbeat and leisurely where participants can relax, enjoy some music and share experiences over a cup of coffee or tea.
Some cafes have set themes with guest speakers, presentations or entertainment for each gathering. Others are more flexible and loosely organized with arts & crafts activities, tea time, singing and poetry depending on the interests of the group. Some groups even welcome guest artists and musicians who invite participants to join in and learn the art form.
Unfortunately, the cafes have not yet arrived on the Atlanta scene. However, a great alternative is the "Arts 4 Alzheimers" program. Geriatric experts believe that art is a great activity to tap into the imagination of Alzheimer's patients. Even with the loss of memory, the capacity for imagination still exists. The program gives people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia fun, creative and stimulating ways to communicate and express their feelings, and enables them to feel less lonely and isolated. "Arts 4 Alzheimer's" is ideal for people with early-stage memory loss. Trained artists/educators facilitate the classes in a variety of mediums (such as painting, pottery, collage, music, and photography). Best of all, classes are free of charge. Classes are held at the Spruill Center for the Arts in Dunwoody. Please contact Tania Becker at 404-492-6181 to learn more.
Another function geared to Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers is the "Rendevous" at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville. The group meets the 2nd Monday of each month and is free with advanced registration. During the group's meeting time, the museum is closed to the general public, allowing participants to experience the art in a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Specially trained tour guides lead visitors and their primary caregivers through the galleries and facilitate an interactive art activity. Contact the Booth Western Art Museum for program specifics at 770-387-3849.
Joining a "Forget Me Nots" group is another great way to get a break from the daily challenges of caregiving. "Forget Me Nots" is a social support Lunch Group for early stage Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers. Groups meet the 3rd Wednesday of each month at various restaurants across Atlanta. Contact the Alzheimer's Association at 1-800-272-3900 for specific locations and dates.
Are you interested in forming an Alzheimer's Cafe in your area? Click the link for start-up guide...Neighborhood Memory Cafe Tool Kit.
Do you need help caring for a loved one at home?
Call Easy Living Services at 770-442-8664. We're Atlanta's Alzheimer's and In-Home Care Experts.