Monday, October 31, 2016
Memory Cafes help engage people with Alzheimer’s, dementia
Joe Rennie of Evansville watches as his wife Pat paints a jack o' lantern during a Memory Cafe at the Alzheimer's Association in Evansville earlier this month. The cafe is a social engagement group for people with early-stage dementia and their partners. (Photo: Jason Clark / Courier & Press)
Tony Payne knew something was wrong. He was forgetting simple things like his grandchildren’s names.
Then in January 2014, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.
“When you first get diagnosed, it’s scary,” he said. “But then you get over that… because you don’t remember it. We try to look at the bright side, but it’s tough.”
For the past year, Payne and his wife, Linda Payne, have participated in the Memory Cafe meetings through the Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
The Memory Cafe in Evansville began three years ago and is a social engagement group for those with any type of dementia or Alzheimer’s and their care partners. It’s designed for people in early to middle stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s to give them an opportunity to be around people who are going through similar experiences, said Helene French, community outreach coordinator of the Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter.
The group meets on the second Wednesday of every month and does activities such as visiting local museums, going to the zoo, picnicking in the park, touring the USS LST 325 and going out for coffee to talk about their experiences dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
“I have found that it’s as beneficial for the care partners as it has been for the people with dementia, being around people that are going through what you’re going through with no judgment, no expectations,“ French said.
During the October Memory Cafe, local artist Robin Church lead the group through a painting activity where members painted pumpkins on canvases.
“They’ve had a pretty horrendous diagnosis, with their partners,” Church said. “To be able to be here and laugh with them and give them something fun to do, that was just a good day. None of them had any artistic so that they would be great enough to come to do this was by far the best part.”
Church, who has her own decorative painting business in Evansville, has always been an artist and loves teaching. She has suffered traumatic brain injury herself and knows the important role art can play in helping with memory loss and dementia.
“One of the important ways to help people with dementia is ," said Bari Lewis, director of education and advocacy of the Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter. "It stimulates the right parts of the brain. It’s a good way for people to be able to express themselves when they can’t express themselves in other ways.”
Another important aspect of the Memory Cafes is creating a safe space for people going through dementia and Alzheimer’s to support each other and even forget about some of their problems.
“My favorite part is just being here with the people and watching them engage and laugh and have fun and forget about the disease for a while,” French said. “Realizing that they’re OK, and it’s going to be OK.”
Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by COURIERPRESS
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length