SCES Helping to Launch New Memory Cafe in Cambridge

Maintaining a social life is one of the many challenges of dementia, but two local organizations are hoping to help by launching a new monthly memory cafe in Cambridge.

The new cafe, which is free and open to the general public, will convene on the third Friday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon at the Cambridge Citywide Senior Center.

Memory cafes are social gatherings for people with dementia and their care partners, explained Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) Clinical Director Annie Fowler. The main idea is providing a safe and inclusive space that features activities that everyone can enjoy, she added.

Memory Cafe in Cambridge
Nancy Quigg-Gonsalves (right) recently joined Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services as coordinator for a newly launched Memory Café. She’s seen in the photo with SCES Clinical Director Annie Fowler. SCES PHOTO

“We really want to create a welcoming space, where people can make connections and focus on strengths instead of limitations,” said Fowler. “And they can also learn more about connecting with resources that can help, if they need them.”

The new cafe is a joint venture between SCES and the Cambridge Council on Aging, which are splitting costs of hosting the monthly cafe and hiring a coordinator to run it.

Memory Cafes originated in Holland in 1997, and have spread across the United States since 2008. Each cafe is unique, but all are free, physically accessible and open to the general public.

Fowler described memory cafes as a growing trend across the region, part of a move toward more dementia-friendly communities. The meeting time for the new memory cafe in Cambridge was chosen so as to not conflict with other area cafes, which are listed in an online directory maintained by the Jewish Family & Children’s Services organization. She added it’s common for people to attend several cafes per month, noting there’s one in Belmont and another hosted by Cambridge Family & Children’s Services.

Memory Cafes were a featured topic at an SCES-hosted conference on dementia in December 2016, and Fowler said information shared at that event helped create momentum for the collaboration with the Cambridge COA.

“It was just good timing all around,” she said.

For more information about the new Memory Cafe in Cambridge or to register, call (617-628-2614 ext. 3607) or email the SCES Aging Information Center at Registration is requested, but not required.  Anyone who requires personal care assistance must be accompanied by a care partner.

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, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact the SCES Aging Information Center at 617-628-2601 for free advice and guidance.