Conner Prairie will begin hosting Memory Care Cafes this month, and the Hamilton East Public Library Fishers will follow suit in March.
The cafes are designed to give those living with dementia and their caregivers an opportunity to get out in the community and meet others living the same experience. The cafes are sponsored by the Central Indiana Council on Aging and Dementia Friends Indiana.
“It’s an opportunity to be able to be around others and not necessarily talk about dementia, but just to relax and enjoy yourself,” said Dustin Ziegler, director of community programs for CICOA. “So, it’s not a support group of any kind. It’s an opportunity to engage with each other. One of the biggest consequences of the other condition is isolation and withdrawal for both the person who has the disease as well as their caregiver.”
The cafes will likely have different themes each month, depending on the time of year or location of the cafe.
“Conner Prairie is such a great site for that because of their interactive model,” Ziegler said. “One month they taught people to churn butter and the history of churning butter. It’s great for people with dementia because in that setting there are things they can touch, see and smell, and that can bring back memories of different things.”
Some cafes are as simple as getting out of the house for coffee.
“A memory cafe can really revolve around anything,” Ziegler said. “It could be just as simple as meeting up and having coffee with other couples and their loved ones who have dementia, or incorporating programming or educational components or activities into the day.”
The cafes are free, but participants are required to register in advance. For a list of dates and times at each location, visit connerprairie.org/things-to-do/events/memory-cafe or hepl.lib.in.us/events-calendar/. The theme for the January session at Conner Prairie is beautiful music and the theme for the March session at HEPL is wedding stories.