(Contributed)

Memory Cafes coming to Cawston and Keremeos

The cafes are a pilot program towards making more dementia-friendly communities

Two Memory Cafes will be coming to Keremeos and Cawston over the coming weeks as part of a pilot program to help advance the inclusion, education and support for those with memory loss, dementia and their caregivers.

Medical Arts Health Research will be hosting the two cafes in January and February, and are inviting those with dementia and their caregivers to come out and spend time with others in similar situations.

The cafe pilots in the Similkameen are aimed to be intergenerational, encouraging the participation of community members who have dementia or who are caring for their loved ones with dementia in their own homes in the community.

The first cafe will be held at the Cawston Community Hall from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Jan. 14, and the second will be held at the Similkameen Rec Centre in Keremeos Feb. 7 from 1 until 4 p.m.

READ ALSO: UBC research group launches online toolkit to combat stigma around dementia

There will be a homemade luncheon meal of soup and scones at the first cafe with music by the Barry Beecroft Band. In addition, Kidus Achalu, clinical research assistant with Medical Arts Health Research, will be inviting people willing to speak on their experiences for interviews on their experiences and what they feel they need to make their lives better.

“Our hope is by listening to all these different people and getting their perspectives, we can get an understanding of the kind of steps that need to be taken in the future so that we can build a more dementia-friendly community,” said Achalu.

The second cafe will be a creative one, with art-based activities for participants to work with and express themselves.

The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen provided the funding for the pilot program, which is also being done in collaboration with the University of British Columbia’s Rural Health Equity Team.

Memory cafes were originally created in the Netherlands in the 1990s as a way of breaking down the stigma that many with dementia face. They have since spread, and are often included in efforts to make more dementia-friendly communities. The goal is to have individuals with dementia able to live well in communities that offer understanding and support for them and their caregivers.

“Our hope is that we can make it more accepted and integrated into society so that people can understand that this person may suffer from dementia and react accordingly,” said Achalu.

These two cafes will serve as a pilot, and following their completion the plan is to review the feedback and the turnout in order to find out what people responded to best and whether other locations would benefit from having the cafes as well.

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