Dementia Cafes offer a place to socialise, learn more and enjoy something new
Dementia Cafés offer a place to socialise, learn more about dementia and local services, and enjoy something new each session.
Mike and Gwen Smith have been going to their local Dementia Café in Stowmarket, Suffolk for a while, and Mike has no doubt about its benefits for his wife of 59 years, who has vascular dementia.
'We look forward to going each time. When we get there and when we leave, she's like a different person.
'The group relaxes her right away, it's so comfortable. When we go home, we go home elated.'
Varied and useful
Stowmarket is a small town but also a hub for a large rural area, so it's not surprising that the monthly café attracts people from surrounding villages.
Brian Foster says that he and his wife Joyce, both in their 80s, get a lot from the group. Joyce has mixed dementia – Alzheimer's and vascular dementia – and Brian says,
'It's one of the few places we can go together.
'The people we meet there know our problems, and have got similar problems themselves.
'Someone will always know something about somebody who can help.'
Derek Wilding, Dementia Support Worker, keeps the sessions as fun, varied and useful as possible.
'One month we'll have pet therapy dogs, then a tasting session of home-delivered meals for the freezer, or people from the local hospital talking about what they provide for people with dementia.'
He stresses the importance of involving other organisations.
'The point of my role is to signpost people to whatever services will meet their needs.'
Social and safe
Café volunteer Sue Vincent cared for her own late mother, who had Alzheimer's.
'The café is a social, safe environment where people can feel relaxed and talk to people who understand.
'The volunteers are there to listen to everyone and make sure no one is left out.'
Derek, who describes the volunteers as fabulous, adds,
'We couldn't do this without them.'
Find out about volunteering opportunities at services near you.