According to a recent Forbes Magazine article, “Dementia-Friendly Communities” will be the new normal in the United States. The “Dementia-Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado” initiative isn’t just one more initiative. It’s a collaborative effort to leverage the already existing resources, expertise, activities, and momentum in our communities in ways that help those walking the dementia journey realize they aren’t walking alone. Additionally, businesses and organizations like stores, restaurants, banks, health care and government agencies can be designated “dementia-friendly” after their staff members participate in brief training for dementia awareness and learn communication strategies to best serve their customers or clients who have cognitive impairment. These businesses will be easily identified with the “purple angel” (the international “dementia-friendly” symbol) window decal.
Memory Cafes are another component of dementia-friendly communities. Memory cafes pro- vide people with mild to moderate dementia and their care partners a safe place and time to enjoy meaningful social connection together.
Timberline Church has hosted a memory café for just over a year. The café attenders meet on the third Monday of each month from 10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. “We typically have a theme each month and begin our gatherings with a devotional reading and introductions. We incorporate snacks, music, reminiscing, conversational games, hands-on activities, and laughter–lots of laughter,” explains Cyndy Luzinski, dementia practitioner and facilitator of the memory cafes. Friendships have developed. Joy is shared. Attendance continues to grow. As a result, at least 2 new memory cafes are anticipated to begin in Northern Colorado in 2016. The first new café will start in January and meet on the third Tuesday of each month from 10:00-11:30 a.m. at MacKenzie Place. Cyndy adds, “Connecting on an emotional and spiritual level is vital, especially for people with cognitive impairment. To quote a friend of mine, ‘just because you lose your mind, doesn’t mean you lose your soul.’ People in Dementia-Friendly Communities know that.”
For more information, see dementiafriendlycommunitiesnoco.org, or theDementia-Friendly Communities of Northern Colorado Facebook page, or call 970-213-4548.