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VIDEO REPORT: Memory Cafes Provide Something More Important than Coffee

Posted Thursday, Sept. 27th, 2012--10:05 p.m.

Once a month at the Sauk Prairie Community Center, in a room just past pre-schoolers riding Big Wheels, seniors gather at a "Memory Cafe".

They don't come for the coffee, but as Bob Rowland puts it, "Because I have Alzheimer's, and I need all the help I can get . That's why I'm here."

Bob and his buddy Dean Faber are battling memory loss and mild cognitive impairment. Bob explains, "Mainly, I think in language. I'm very proud of my use of the language. I used to be..anyway, and I found it going away. So it's good to be here and talk to people, and think, and react. It's helpful."

The Alzheimer's and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin opened the Memory Cafe, which meets the third Thursday of each month from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the Sauk Prairie Community Center. Another is opening at the Middleton Senior Center. It will be open the first Friday of each month from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.

Carol Olson with the Alzheimer's and Dementia Alliance says,
"Our goal is to provide more opportunities for folks who have mild cognitive impairment or early Alzheimer's to meet and socialize in an environment that's both stimulating and hopefully fun."

Each session starts with socializing. Speakers then talk about various topics, and open things up for questions.

Memory cafes started over in Great Britain, and they're just now making their way over here to the states. In fact, the one in Sauk City is the first in the state of Wisconsin. The idea behind them is pretty simple. They help battle memory loss, by creating new memories....and they provide a place where people battling memory loss can support each other. Caregivers are also welcome to attend....and the sessions are free.

Dean Faber started attending the Memory Cafe when it opened this summer. "It's much better since I've gotten to places like this."
As he searches for words that temporarily seem to escape him, he says, "When you have your diagnosis, it's a fork in the road, you know. And some of your friends say, 'Oh, see you later. Bye.'...and others are true friends after the diagnosis."

When Bob Rowland is asked to describe what it's like when you start to notice the effects of Alzheimer's? He answers, "It scared the (expletive) out of me....literally. But like all the challenges we've all had, you deal with it."

Creating new memories at the Memory Cafe help them do just that.

Bob says, "There are plenty of people who are having the same problems I do, and they're getting along, so why can't I?"

For more information on the Sauk Prairie Memory Cafe: 608-963-2688 or 608-742-9055, or email carol.olson@alzwisc.org.
For information on the Middleton Memory Cafe call 608-232-3400 or email support@alzwisc.org

To support the Alzheimer's & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin, please consider attending this Saturday morning's walk at Warner Park in Madison, or other upcoming walks in our area. You'll find more information at this link.

http://www.alzwisc.org/walks/welcome_to_alzheimers_walk.html


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