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The Benefits of Memory Cafés for Adults with Dementia

The Benefits of Memory Cafés for Adults with Dementia

HSL resident:  “I’m not sure why I am here.  What’s happening right now?”

Social Worker: “This is a special program for people experiencing some challenges with their memory.  We have a wonderful afternoon planned”.

HSL resident: “I don’t think I’m having memory issues, but you can tell me if I’m wrong.”

Social Worker: “Well, do you ever have trouble remembering people’s names?”

HSL resident nods and smiles.

Social Worker: “Then you should come join us.”

HSL resident:  “Okay, I’m in!!”

Hebrew SeniorLife recently launched “Café Connect,” a new monthly program at NewBridge on the Charles geared specifically for residents experiencing early memory challenges. Café Connect joins an international movement of social gatherings known as “memory cafes” where adults with memory impairment due to mild cognitive impairment or early dementia, and their spouses and friends come together with others facing similar challenges in a supportive, socially and intellectually stimulating environment. 

Café Connect launched in October with a group of two dozen NewBridge residents who enjoyed coffee, conversation and the music of Leonard Bernstein. In November, the program featured a short holiday film, food demonstrations and tastings, and lively conversation about family holiday traditions.

Each monthly program blends education, conversation and entertainment, all supported by a dedicated team of staff, adult volunteers and energetic students. The multigenerational component of this program has been an important part of its success. Residents are clearly charmed by the energy, maturity and youthful perspectives of the student participants. In addition, residents realize that the purpose of their attendance at the programs extends beyond their personal fulfillment, to provide an important learning experience for the youth. Indeed, the program benefits everyone involved.

In the coming months, Hebrew SeniorLife hopes to expand its Café Connect program both at NewBridge and its other housing sites. 

    This blog received input from fellow members of the Café Connect Team:

    Elaine Abrams, Program Manager, Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care at Hebrew Senior Life until June 2015
    Elaine Abrams, MPH, RN, CHES, joined HSL in December 2013 bringing with her more than 25 years of nursing, public health, and health education experience. Her areas of expertise include community health assessment, program development and management, and health communications.  A graduate of University of Connecticut Graduate Program in Public Health, Elaine has held several leadership roles including President-elect at the Connecticut Public Health Association, the state affiliate of the American Public Health Association, where she also served for several years on the Board of Directors. Her current role as Program Manager, Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care at Hebrew Senior Life will allow her to use her experience to establish program priorities and oversee all programmatic activities.

    Janet Gottler, Community Care Advisor at NewBridge
    As the Community Care Advisor at NewBridge, Janet Gottler provides social work support to residents of Independent Living and their families, support groups and special programs.  Prior to coming to NewBridge in 2012, Janet was the Director of Long Term Care at Kit Clark Senior Services in Dorchester for ten years and the previous Manager of Medical Social Work at Harvard Vanguard/Harvard Community Health Plan.


    Memory Care at Assisted Living at NewBridge on the Charles 

    NewBridge on the Charles offers the Gilda and Alfred A. Slifka Memory Care Assisted Living Residences to seniors with early stage and mid-stage Alzheimer's Disease and/or a related dementia. The Memory Care Assisted Living Residences at NewBridge on the Charles provides a personalized and meaningful assisted living experience for residents based on the history, preferences and goals of each individual. Short-term stays now available. 

    Learn more about Memory Care at NewBridge

    Make an appointment for Memory Disorders Testing

    Lynda Bussgang's picture

    About the Blogger

    Adam and Matan Adelson Multigenerational Program Manager

    Lynda is the Adam and Matan Adelson Multigenerational Program Manager for Hebrew SeniorLife. Lynda is responsible for overseeing and developing multigenerational programs for all of Hebrew Senior Life’s housing communities, as this cutting edge approach enhances senior living, and positively impact child development. Lynda sits on the National Board of Directors of Facing History and Ourselves and is an active board member at The Rashi School. In her personal time, Lynda shares her talents as a professional vocalist specializing in Broadway music. She is a graduate of Harvard College and...

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    I recently brought my mother to live with me and my daughter (21) after she attained pneumonia and I realized how badly she was deteriorating in memory. She was in an unhealthy situation living with my brother, her son, and not getting the best of care, as much as I tried to assist. Finally, I am trying but feel she is lacking in a social setting. Mind you, she has been not wanting to do much for a long time, a few years, so she still isn't feeling up to much. But this was a lady who loved socializing. Maybe you can help me with some pointers on where to take her. We live in the Miami area, OR if I should expect her to even want to. She may verbalize the desire, but when the time comes, she usually is not up to it. I don't know if I should place her in a more social environment, or not. I just feel these changes are all too much and soon for her brain to absorb and be comfortable with. Confusion rules a lot. I hope you can give me some advice. Thank you, Renee Fuentes Miami, Florida
    Hi Renee, Please check your email for a personal response from Hebrew SeniorLife. Thank you for reaching out to us! -Erica, Hebrew SeniorLife Social Media Team

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