Kaley Burke

Kaley Burke

We kicked off our first Alzheimer’s Café last week with a small group of passionate advocates dedicated to improving opportunities for people living with dementia to engage in their communities.

Only one person living with dementia and his wife attended the first café but he provided an incredible amount of inspiration for the rest of us to invest in building this movement.

We agreed the Missoula Alzheimer’s Café would meet on the last Thursday of every month at Zootown Brew from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and committed to help spread the word among our friends. The next cafe will be Thursday, July 30.

The gentlemen we met and his wife, who requested their names not be publicized, radiated with love and seemed to truly embrace living in the moment. We had the opportunity to learn about our new friends love for jazz, the ladies, staying social, and witnessed the love his wife has for him which told you a story of a couple who has been in love with each other for many years, and have more to come.

As a group we talk about some possible challenges of attending such an event, or outings in general. The biggest obstacle, of course, has been the absence of any opportunity like this geared towards people living with dementia. Some of the care professionals attending said that family members generally can’t or won’t take time off work to participate in activities such as this. They also said there are not enough transportation alternatives for people living with dementia.

Our new friend’s wife did agree it was difficult finding places to bring her husband to socialize, and they are both very eager to meet more people like themselves at future cafés.

One participant, who works as an activities director at a local assisted living memory care home, came to see what the cafe was all about. She committed to encouraging residents from her facility and their loved ones to attend the next café, but said it would be helpful if there were more volunteers in the community willing to help out.

We didn’t spend all our time talking about advocacy. True to the purpose of the café, we enjoyed drinks and snacks and shared stories about each other’s children, jobs, travels, and places we were born.

We were all greeted with a kiss from our friend, and watched him share many winks with his wife. It warmed my heart and reminded me what living in the moment really meant.

Moving forward, we ask everyone in Missoula to help spread the word. Click here to download and print an Alzheimer’s Cafe flyer and distribute in your community. You can also share a PDF Alzheimer’s Café Info Sheet with friends and family.

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Missoula Alzheimer’s Café Info

(Download Alzheimer’s Café Info PDF)
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Zootown Brew
121 West Broadway
Missoula, MT 59802
Info: Kaley Burke, 406-214-3053, kburke@harvesthomecare.net

What it is:

An Alzheimer’s, dementia or memory café is a monthly gathering of individuals living with memory loss along with their caregivers, and/or friends and family in a in an environment that is accepting and nonjudgmental. There is no set agenda.

  • No membership or fee required.
  • The café is for people living with dementia, including Alzheimer’s, along with their companions (Caregivers, families, friends, and professionals).
  • Companions are expected to stay and participate in the café.
  • The café will not exclude anyone based on age, race, color, religion, creed, or nationality.

The café is NOT:

  • The café is not a support group.
  • The café is not a workshop, seminar, or lecture on dementia.
  • The café is not a respite program.
  • The cafe is not just another party or happy hour.
  • The café is not a daycare program.
  • The café is not to be used as a promotion for a commercial enterprise.

Communication Tips:

Participating in an Alzheimer’s Café provides us an opportunity to be ambassadors to our community for a more positive way of thinking about living with memory loss.

  • Thank host staff and other patrons for their patience and acceptance that you might speak or act differently when living with memory loss.
  • In conversations avoid questions like “Do you remember?” and “Do you want?” Instead, share feelings, observations and recommendations.
  • Listen, take your time and use lots of compliments and humor.