Alzheimer’s Cafes create stigma-free social gatherings for people suffering from dementia and their families to enjoy.
Over 100,000 people in Washington State live with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, and another 300,000 people care for a loved one with dementia. While people with dementia and their loved ones remain a vital part of the community, they often experience social isolation. And while doctors frequently recommend that people with dementia remain socially, physically and mentally active, not everyone has access to stigma-free, dementia-friendly events to be able to do so.
Yet, people with dementia deserve access to these kinds of events in our WA State counties because they are a vital part of our communities, retaining remarkable strengths and stories, contributing to our society and deserving the right to fully participate. Thankfully, there are inspiring efforts underway to reduce the stigma and encourage social engagement for this growing share of our society.
Here in Washington State, the Dementia Action Collaborative (DAC) is working to develop collaborative models of stigma-free social engagement for people with dementia. Most recently, they produced an overview and how-to guide for one of these models, the Alzheimer’s Café.
An Alzheimer’s Café is a regular social gathering for people with dementia and their loved ones in a comfortable public venue like a restaurant, community center or library. In 2010, a senior center in King County launched the second Alzheimer’s Café in the nation. Now, there are more than 16 monthly Alzheimer’s Cafes across the state.
While a simple concept, it fulfills a crucial need. Says one guest at the Mill Creek Supper Club in Battle Ground, WA, “Where else can you and your loved one go out and eat together, be totally relaxed, and know you are accepted before you even open the door?”
The DAC is a voluntary public-private partnership involving multiple stakeholders who guide and support the implementation of the Washington State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. With the Alzheimer’s Café introduction and how-to guide, the DAC aims to equip communities around the state to offer this effective program. As more of these opportunities emerge, people with dementia and their loved ones will be able to fully participate, remain connected and active with acceptance, and live well with dementia.
Want to learn more or consider how your county can get involved?
Discover more with these resources:
- The Alzheimer’s Café Model: An Introduction for Washington State
- The Alzheimer’s Café Model: Steps to Success
- Webinar recording and slides about how to start an Alzheimer’s Cafe
- From the WSAC Blog: Dementia Friendly Communities Guest Blog
Next up, the Dementia Action Collaborative is producing a webinar and guidance materials on how to start walking groups for people with dementia and their loved ones. To get on the mailing list for this and other dementia-friendly community updates, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to our contributing authors:
Marigrace Becker, UW Memory & Brain Wellness Center Program Manager for Community Education & Impact, DAC Member
Cheryl Townsend Winter, DDS, MSD, MBA, Governor Appointed Member & Vice Chair WA State Council on Aging, Chair, Public Awareness & Community Readiness Subcommittee, Dementia Action Collaborative of WA