Dementia can be a challenging and isolating disease, for both the person living with the condition and their caregiver. One of the greatest challenges for dementia caregivers is finding time for social experiences for themselves and their loved one. Dementia cafes provide such a place.
This guide explains the benefits of dementia cafes, what activities take place and how you can find a dementia cafe near you.
What is a dementia cafe?
Dementia cafes, also known as memory cafes, have become very popular in recent years as they provide a much-needed, welcoming place where people with dementia and their caregivers can meet, share experiences and socialise together.
Memory cafes are located all across the UK and are run by volunteers, local community groups and national charities. They can be set up in any communal space such as community centres, village halls or hotels and are usually held regularly. Memory cafes are not a form of respite care. Rather, they offer a place where caregivers and care recipients can socialise and connect with others in similar situations.
The people running memory cafes consist of volunteers who help with organising activities and serving drinks and biscuits. Often dementia professionals are present to offer information and advice, or just to have an informal chat.
The history of dementia cafes
Dementia cafes have been around for over 20 years and continue to grow in popularity due to their unique and important benefits for people with dementia, their loved ones and caregivers.
Dr Bère Miesen, a Dutch psychiatrist, is credited with creating the first memory cafe in the Netherlands in the late 1990s to raise awareness and fight stigmas associated with dementia and to provide support for patients and their caregivers.
Dr Miesen’s colleague and co-author, Dr Gemma Jones, introduced the concept to the UK in 2000 where the idea has gone from strength to strength. According to the Memory Cafe Directory, there were over 60 dementia cafes across the UK in 2020.
Dementia cafes can be set up by anyone who sees a need in their community. Age UK have produced a toolkit and guide for people who wish to organise a dementia cafe in their local community.
What happens at a dementia cafe?
If you have a loved one with dementia you know the daily challenges for both yourself and your loved one. Everyone needs and deserves social connection but it can be difficult to find community spaces that are suitable for people with dementia or places where caregivers can meet, share experiences and support each other. Dementia cafes meet this need.
Each dementia cafe is different but they all follow the same concept; they are places where;
- People affected by dementia can meet, challenging the social isolation associated with dementia.
- People with dementia can take part in activities and socialise in a safe and welcoming environment.
- Caregivers and loved ones can share experiences and support each other.
Some of the activities offered at dementia cafes include:
- Arts and crafts to aid self-expression – such as painting and drawing
- Reading books that stir memories
- Games like puzzles, bingo, and checkers
- Sing a longs, music therapy and dancing
- Baking and cooking to stimulate individual and group engagement
- Gardening or other outdoor activities
- Socialising with snacks and beverages
- Access to advice from professionals in an informal setting
- Grooming and pampering sessions
- Group activities to engage confidence and practice social connections
Benefits of visiting dementia cafes
Dementia cafes offer enormous benefits for people with dementia and their caregivers. The responsibilities of caring for someone with dementia can be overwhelming and exhausting. People with dementia are often fearful, anxious, depressed, and socially shunned.
As a result, memory cafes can have a positive and lasting influence on both caregivers and family members.
Here are just a few of the benefits of visiting dementia cafes:
Dementia cafe benefits for caregivers
Dementia cafes are welcoming, relaxed places to socialise, and access resources, information and peer support. They offer caregivers a place where they can take a break from their caregiver role and not worry about the social stigma they may experience when in public places with their loved one. Carers can attend with the knowledge that any unusual behaviour will be accepted by other cafe attendees.
Caregiving for a loved one with dementia is a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week job, making socialising and time for relaxation difficult or impossible. According to Carers UK, 8 out of 10 carers (81%) have felt lonely or isolated as a result of looking after a loved one and this number rises to 86% for carers providing more than 50 hours of care a week. Social isolation and loneliness are huge issues for dementia caregivers. Dementia cafes offer a unique setting where caregivers can meet others like them, share experiences and make friends, helping to offset feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression.
Dementia cafe benefits for people with dementia
Opportunities to build self-esteem, confidence and connections with others are few and far between for people with dementia. In the early and mid stages of dementia, experts agree that cognitive stimulation and socialising help to slow down the progress of the disease. Taking part in activities can help someone living with dementia keep active both physically and mentally, slowing down memory loss and keeping the brain active.
The activities offered at dementia cafes, such as music therapy, can have profound benefits for people with dementia. In addition to eliciting positive emotions, music therapy has been shown to have long-term benefits in reducing the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. Art therapy has also been shown to reduce anxiety and agitation in people with dementia.
How to find your local dementia cafe
The number of dementia cafes is growing all the time. To find a dementia cafe in your local area, use your postcode to search on the Alzheimer’s Society dementia cafe webpage or the Memory Cafe Directory website.
If you are unable to find a group in your area you may wish to consider setting up your own local group with the help of this Age UK Guide.
Dementia home care with Trinity
At Trinity Homecare, we have been providing personalised dementia care to people across the UK for over 25 years. We know the distinct challenges of caring for dementia. Our patient and compassionate carers are trained and knowledgeable in caring for dementia at every stage of the disease.
We respect that every person is different. That’s why we carry out a free needs assessment before working with any client. This helps us understand you and your loved one’s unique needs and wishes. The assessment contributes towards the creation of a personalised dementia care plan allowing us to support you and your loved one most effectively.
Specialised care for different stages of dementia
Through our extensive experience, we know that different stages of dementia require different types of care. In the early stages of dementia, it’s important to encourage as much social activity, exercise and cognitive engagement to delay the progression as much as possible. Support focuses on creating daily routines, creating reminder systems, assistance with medication, and encouraging social activities and exercise. Clients often find visiting care is the most suitable support at this stage.
For mid-stage dementia, introducing professional care at this time is crucial to your loved one’s ability to form a bond and accept the care given to them before the more advanced stages set in.
For many of our clients, this is the time when care transitions from visiting care to live-in care ensuring support is available round-the-clock. Care at this stage may focus on daily care needs (such as eating, dressing, bathing and toileting), managing difficult behaviours that may become more pronounced (such as sleep problems, wandering, and aggression), soothing anxiety and irritability (such as sundowning), and supporting family caregivers.
The late stages of dementia are characterised by a steep deterioration in the person’s condition and they will require 24-hour care that covers daytime and nighttime support. Carers can assist with things like continence, eating and drinking, monitoring weight, nighttime supervision, preparing tailored meals that the person is able to consume, creating comfort and a peaceful environment, and providing ongoing support to family caregivers.
How to arrange dementia care with Trinity
No matter where your loved one is on their dementia journey, we have the expertise to support them. Our exceptional dementia care and other home services have been given the highest rating of ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission. This puts us in the top 3% of home care providers in England, something we are very proud of.
To find out about our exceptional dementia care, get in touch with us today. We offer a free, no-obligation enquiry service. Our friendly care team is happy to answer any questions you may have and is available every day from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. on 0207 183 4884. Alternatively, make an online enquiry and we will be in touch very soon.