PHOENIX — For those dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it can be a lonely and difficult experience, but a new Valley group is meeting weekly to allow patients and caregivers to share their stories.
It is called Memory Café. The group meets each week at the Tempe Public Library to raise awareness about memory loss and keep patients socially active. They also get the chance to interact with others going through the same situation.
“Like other chronic conditions, [such as] diabetes, you learn to live a different lifestyle,” Jan Dougherty, director of family and community services at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, said. “You have to adapt to new strategies that help you stay well.”
Dougherty and her associates work with the group, and even though the program just started, she said participants have already shared ideas of how best to deal with memory loss.
Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell’s mother has dementia, and he knows the personal hardship that families go through. His dad was his mom’s caregiver, and he said the Memory Café is also a great chance for caregivers to come together in an open and safe setting.
“It’s so important that people really recognize the caregiver and what they go through,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think a lot of people understand that until you actually go through it.”
He said the group is part of the city’s efforts to become a dementia-friendly city. Mitchell said it also engages the business community and first responders.
The Memory Café group meets every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Tempe Public Library near Rural Road and Southern Avenue.
There is also a speaker series about dementia at the library the second Wednesday of every month from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.