UK Freely Shares it’s Memory Cafe Concept
It amazes me every day the information and resources that are shared to improve the lives with those afflicted by or dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Recently I was introduced to a concept called “Memory Cafes,” through a friend of mine Norrm’s McNamara who lives in the UK. Norrm’s has Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, known as EOAD.
Norrm’s attends a Memory Café and raves about it. Basically they are a form of support for both patient and Caregiver. These cafés offer peer support and provide regular and informal sessions for people with dementia and their caregiver. Health and social care professionals are on hand to answer questions and offer advice, with volunteers providing information, entertainment and activities.
The County of Devon has 40 Memory Cafes with 5 more up and coming and they are run by National, County and local organizations. David Light is a volunteer working closely with the County of Devon’s Joint Strategic Planning & commissioning Manager (Older people’s mental health) in setting up 31 of these memory cafes in all the market and seaside towns in Devon. He has now passed on all the documentation to get memory cafes set up and running here in the USA. His time, energy, and passion to bring awareness and comfort to those dealing with memory loss is touching; yet comes from a very personal experience.
David’s wife Pam, had dementia for over ten years. Their 53 years of marriage held a bond strong and true, ebbing and flowing through better or worse, and sickness and health. 7 years of dementia, then a stroke following which the diagnosis of frontal lobe dementia was announced. Then, over the next 18-24 months Pam had a series of mini strokes. During this time David would get 3 hours to himself a week, which allowed him to go grocery shopping. His local mental health team also provided 3 hours respite a week. After 50 years of marriage, Pam became difficult to handle and it took Doctors 25 weeks to get her stabilized. Pam then had to go and live in a nursing home. David now lives alone. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and loss he felt, even though he knew this was the best decision for Pam. Throughout this period Pam still knew who David was, but this past Christmas she stopped eating and the progression of the disease kicked in to the final stages. Recognition as David once knew it was gone. Pam passed away on January 4th, 2011. My prayers and thoughts go out to David as he journeys forward trying to make sense of this disease and help others who have found themselves on the same journey.
If you are interested in contacting David Light he is very willing to chat. Just shot me an email and I would be glad to pass David’s contact information to you.
The Rotarians UK have developed their own group called “Rotarians Easing Problems of Dementia” (REPoD) aimed at finding ways to ease the problems of dementia. They are working on a variety of community based support schemes across the UK. On their website you can download more information on how to set up a memory café in your area. www.repod.org.uk
There is also another website which is being developed and will be a directory of all the Memory Café’s in the UK. This will enable a relative or friend to locate a memory café for their loved one in another part of the country. www.memorycafes.org.uk