A free social gathering for people with forgetfulness or memory loss was recently featured on Aging Well, a monthly production of Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES).
The Cambridge Connections Memory Café was launched in August, with the goal of providing a social outlet for people with memory loss and their caregivers, explained SCES Clinical Director Annie Fowler.
“A lot of times when people start to deal with memory loss they may start to isolate because they know something is going on and they’re uncomfortable with it,” said Fowler. “This is an environment that is very welcoming to anyone, with activities and conversation to help people avoid that isolation.”
The new café is a joint venture with the Cambridge Council on Aging (CCOA) and was described as part of larger Dementia Friendly Communities movement, which seeks to provide support and understanding for people with memory loss. A core principal of memory cafes is that they focus on ability, not diagnoses.
“The idea of a memory café is that one anyone who is experiencing forgetfulness or any change in thinking can come and put that aside, there is no expectation that somebody share what their condition is,” said Maryellen McEleney of the CCOA. “It’s really an opportunity to say ‘I’m going to have fun today and enjoy myself.”
Memory cafes started in Europe in the late 90s and have become increasingly popular in the United States. Having coordinated another local memory café for the past 18 months, Cambridge Connections coordinator Nancy Quigg-Gonsalves said that each is unique.
“One of the nice things about a memory café is that, as you develop your core group, they kind of drive the activities,” she said. “It’s about their interests and what they like.”
Cambridge Connections is open to the general public and convenes on the third Friday of each month from 10 to noon at the Cambridge Citywide Senior Center.
Aging Well is produced in partnership with the Somerville Media Center and airs on SCATV Channel 3 at the following times:
- Sundays at 10am
- Mondays at 7:30am
- Tuesdays at 1pm.
Episodes are also available through the SCES YouTube channel.
Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) is a non-profit agency that supports the independence and well-being of older people in Somerville and Cambridge. For more information, visit eldercare.org, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact the SCES Aging Information Center at 617-628-2601 for free advice and guidance.