We all seek safety in our lives, whether it’s job security or a safe grab bar in the bathroom – and of course everything else in between. One such safe environment for individuals living with dementia and those who care for them is a Memory Cafe. Memory Cafes offer safe and comfortable dementia friendly outings.
What is a Memory Cafe?
A Memory Cafe is any sort of event or outing designed to be dementia friendly. Why is that important? It is an unfortunate reality that many people living with dementia have unpleasant experiences with going about their normal lives. Often, they are misunderstood, judged, and the target of a wrongly placed stigma.
Memory Cafe is a wonderfully welcoming place for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease or any other form of dementia, as well as other forms of cognitive impairment. This “no judgement zone” is a great opportunity to interact with others in a safe and friendly environment.
There are as any different types of Memory Cafe as there are… well… Memory Cafes! Each one is a bit different, based on the personalities and backgrounds of the facilitators and the participants. Some are activities-based, while others focus on education. You might have one enjoying the connections of demographic-appropriate music and dancing. Others might focus on crafts and painting. Some simply guide the participants in exercises that foster reminiscing.
There truly is something for everyone!
Not Respite Care
While a Memory Cafe is beneficial for those living with dementia, it is also beneficial for their caregivers as well. It is not a place to “drop off” your loved one for a while, but a way to enjoy activities with them as a break from the normal routine that you share.
A Memory Cafe is a safe and comfortable space where caregivers and their loved ones can socialize, listen to music, play games, and enjoy other appropriate activities. They provide mutual support and exchange information. This by itself is valuable if for nothing more than to obtain information about additional resources.
The Memory Cafe’s Roots
With roots in the Netherlands, Dr. Bere Miesen, a Dutch psychiatrist introduced the Memory Cafe concept in 1997 as a way to break through the stigma associated with various forms of Dementia. It simply “wasn’t discussed” and those living with the disease – and their caregivers – were suffering as a result.
The concept spread throughout Europe, to Ireland and England, Australia and eventually to the United States. As the Memory Cafe concept evolved, it grew into a very open culture, including more than just those living with various forms of Dementia.
Memory Cafes Today
New Memory Cafes, with a diverse collection of focus areas, continue to open across the country – and around the world – as a natural response to a growing health concern. However, that growth nearly stopped, and has evolved significantly, once we entered the COVID era.
MemoryCafeDirectory.com had over 900 Memory Cafe listings in 5 countries when COVID restrictions took place. Now late in 2020, some “in-person” Memory Cafes have started to very carefully test the water for resuming operations. Time will tell if their effort is successful.
Memory Cafes Today – And in the Future
One very encouraging development that came out of the COVID challenges has been the move to an online “virtual” Memory Cafe format. Just as many businesses around the world have moved meetings online, the Zoom platform is a favorite of Memory Cafe operators. It’s easy to both set up and to use.
With this move to an online format, geographic boundaries no longer are in play. In fact, the “COUNTRY/STATE/CITY” format in use on the rest of the site doesn’t pertain to the online format. To accommodate a “scheduled” instead of a “zip code” MemoryCafeDirectory.com now uses a calendar format in a new section called Cafe Connect.
Cafe Connect allows those seeking an online experience to select the day and time that works for them, read about that gathering, contact the organizer, and get registered – all from the safety and comfort of their own home.
Safety and Comfort
The move to online Memory Cafes started with the demands placed on society by COVID. Staying engaged in appropriate activities by individuals living with dementia is important, but of course, staying safe is critical. What better way to stay safe, than in the comfort of home?
While COVID caused it to start, many believe the virtual Memory Cafe will live on well after COVID is behind us. This new tool has allowed many to stay engaged easily. Social isolation is a significant problem in the senior community, and is often exacerbated for those in the dementia community.
Anyone who aligns with the Age Safe America mission will quickly see the value Memory Cafes – and virtual Memory Cafes – hold for our dementia friends. Keeping our loved ones safe and comfortable is a mission for all of us.
About the Author
Dave Wiederrich is the founder of JADCOM Media LLC, (JADCOMMedia.com) an online publishing and marketing company. One of JADCOM Media’s web properties is MemoryCafeDirectory.com. With over 900 Memory Cafes in 5 countries, and with over 75 virtual Memory Cafe listings, the site draws thousands of visitor monthly, seeking valuable caregiving resources. It also offers Memory Joggers (a free, fun recall exercise) and the Guest Author program to allow dementia authors to share the backstory behind their books.
You can contact Dave at info@MemoryCafeDirectory.com. Follow Memory Cafe Directory on social media:
More than 92 million Americans have already voted in this election, a massive number that by the time you read this may already be out of date. Early voting numbers indicate the turnout in 2020 could be the highest in a century, at around 65 percent of the eligible voter population, or about 150 million voters. These proudly impressive numbers have further brought to light that our election system and particularly our voting procedures are somewhat archaic compared to other established democracies, in as far as Americans having to stand in lines for 12 hours to cast a vote in person. Remember, Your VOTE is Your Voice!
As a Democracy, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the sad truth is that America has very low rates of participation in our democracy. Only 55.7% of Americans voted in the last presidential election. This is not normal or healthy for advanced democracies. The fact that our Senators, Representatives, and even Presidents are selected by a small portion of the population goes against our democratic ideals.
In the early days of the United States voting was usually limited to free white men who owned property and met certain religious qualifications. Eventually the right to vote became more widespread. By 1860 almost every state allowed all white men over 21 to vote. After the Civil War the 15th Amendment to the Constitution gave the vote to men of all races. In practice, however, most black people in the South did not gain the right to vote until the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Women, after a long political struggle, won the right to vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The right to vote has been further extended in recent decades. In 1971 the 26th Amendment to the Constitution gave 18-year-olds the right to vote. More recently, federal law has guaranteed the vote to people with disabilities and to those whose first language is not English.
Today some say that our election system and voting procedures are somewhat archaic compared to other established democracies, in as far as Americans having to stand in lines for 12 hours to simply cast a vote in person. Many Americans believe we can do a lot better in our election management. We are a young democracy and still learning. So for today…
GET OUT THERE AND VOTE!
Global Handwashing Day is an annual global advocacy day dedicated to advocacting for handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. “Hand Hygiene for All” is the theme of this year’s Global Handwashing Day, following a recent World Health Organization initiative calling for improved hand hygiene. Global Handwashing Day was established by the Global Handwashing Partnership.
The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008, when over 120 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Everyone can protect themselves, their families, and their communities through handwashing with soap. Though it requires few resources—soap and a small amount of water—the benefits are significant. Handwashing with soap helps prevent the spread of infections including influenza and Ebola.
Keeping our hands clean is one of the simplest and most important habits we can adopt to prevent contracting Covid-19 and spreading the coronavirus that causes the disease to others. Without washing properly and killing off the coronavirus — and other viruses, bacteria and germs we pick up from raw meats, fecal matter and respiratory droplets — it can spread between people and cause disease.
Be grateful you can wash your hands.
There are 818 million children who don’t have access to basic handwashing with water and soap at school. At least 3 billion people, or 40% of the world’s population, do not have a handwashing facility with soap and water at home.
Handwashing with soap is an easy, effective, affordable do-it-yourself practice that prevents infections and saves lives.
Just Do It!…please
How Germs Spread
Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next. Germs can spread from other people or surfaces when you:
- Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Prepare or eat food and drinks with unwashed hands
- Touch a contaminated surface or objects
- Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects
Key Times to Wash Hands
You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the toilet
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After handling pet food or pet treats
- After touching garbage
Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way
Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.
Follow these five steps every time.
- Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
- Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
Worried about dry hands? After washing your hands, simply pat them dry with a clean towel but leave them slightly damp “to lock in the moisture” from ointments and creams that you’ll work into your skin, fingertips and nails.\
The economics of aging-in-place home modifications are compelling, especially in comparison to the cost and trauma of a single fall for an older adult. Aging in place not only offers seniors an improved quality of life, it is fiscally sound as well, saving Americans billions in avoided costs. Empowering individuals to live at home rather than in institutional settings will yield a significant cost savings to Medicaid—and to taxpayers.
It is not just our fiscal responsibility, but our moral responsibility to ensure every American, no matter their age or ability, has the opportunity to live out their later years however they wish—and with the support and dignity they deserve.
Simple home modifications can provide the stability needed to age confidently at home.
Today, many active seniors find it is far more cost-efficient to make home improvements to accommodate the effects of aging rather than seek out a facility that meets all their unique needs.
According to NAHB, moving to a typical assisted living facility can cost upwards of $60,000 per year each year while the cost to widen a bathroom door, put in safety bars and a roll-in shower should typically cost closer to the vicinity of $8,000 — which is a one-time expense instead of a yearly drain on a homeowner’s finances.
Aging-in-place remodeling projects that saw the largest increases over the past five years were additional lighting (also known as “task lighting”), showers without curbs, bathtub grab bars, non-slip floors and widened doorways. The most popular exterior improvements include ramps or “zero step” entrances, package shelves near front doors, handrails installed at existing steps and porch or front door sidelights.
Aging in Place: Growing Older at Home
Learn More: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/aging-place-growing-older-home
As we go into September, National Falls Prevention Month, we are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic across the US and the world. We have been sheltering in place by mandate or choice. Yet, the risks of falling do not decrease with fewer outings! And the challenges of caregiving have grown as personal visits have not been possible for many families. So there are different ways to approach the risks of falling and possible solutions but, most importantly, we need to have the conversations about falls. Falls Prevention Awareness Week, September 21-25, 2020, is designed to spread this important public health message.
Falls are a leading cause of lost independence and mobility; often leaving seniors unable to fully recover from the trauma. Their overall health declines, and care needs increase significantly. People aged 65 and older have a 25% greater chance of falling. And if someone has fallen once, their chances of falling again doubles. It seems like common sense — everybody falls, no matter what age. However, for many older adults, an unexpected fall can result in a serious and costly injury. The good news is that most falls can be prevented. If you are the caregiver, you have the power to reduce your loved one’s risk of falling, and your own fall risk as well.
The National Council on Aging in partnership with the National Alliance for Caregiving has prepared a Conversation Guide to help caregivers and family members discuss the importance of fall risk reduction. Taking the action and beginning the conversation is the first step. It is not easy to tell a family member or friend that you are concerned about their safety or chances of falling. So, the use of supportive language is a great place to start, perhaps with an offer to follow-up on a wellness appointment so the discussion of fall risks can be part of an overall conversation. As with all conversations, positive tone and body language is vital.
Remember, this conversation may have to happen more than once to gather the full view of the risks and encourage participation. In addition to wellness checks for medication management concerns, the annual eye exam can be crucial. Subtle changes in vision can reduce depth perception, making even stepping out of the house or off a curb more dangerous. If your family member wears transition lenses which change with the ambient light, one strategy may be to simply stop and wait for the time to allow the lenses and, therefore, the vision to adjust before walking further. Extra lighting along outdoor pathways and interior hallways can reduce the chance of not seeing the tripping hazard that may be present.
Doing an evaluation of the home for safety hazards can be done, even with social distancing! As the caregiver, if you look for the tripping hazards or the ways to make every day activities easier; such as a handheld shower or grab bars, it’s a start and part of the safety conversation. The safety of your loved one reduces your stress and worry as the caregiver. You can reach out for a professional to assist you in a comprehensive home safety assessment as well, if you are not near your loved one.
Age Safe® America develops training programs and certifications to empower senior services providers to better help decrease falls and fall-related injuries.
Learn More: http://stopfalls.org/news-events/fall-prevention-awareness-week/
Download the Falls Prevention Conversation Guide for Caregivers:
Falls Prevention Conversation Guide for Caregivers:
National Council on Aging (NCOA) Falls Prevention Awareness Week 2020 RESOURCES
As a Go4Life National Partner, Age Safe® America continues to advocate for exercise and physical activity everyday as key preemptive means to prevent to accidental falls.