New Memory Cafe Seeks to Help Those Affected by Memory Loss

Ryan Juntti
Updated: March 14, 2018 01:50 PM

DULUTH - Age Well Arrowhead held it's inaugural Age Well Memory Cafe on Tuesday afternoon from 1:30-3:00 at Hope United Methodist Church in Duluth. 

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It is a free event, and will be held moving forward at the same time and location on the second Tuesday of every month.

The Memory Cafe is for people with memory loss conditions and their loves ones to find support, and socialize with people in the same position.

"What we're doing is giving them a forum to come and interact without any labels, any judgment, any anything. Just come and have fun and socialize," said Age Well Arrowhead Program Director Kim Hileman.

The socialization is what Hileman says is important about the event. 

"Our whole goal is that when the care receiver and the care provider come through the door to our cafe, they leave those labels out the door, and they just come to be," said Hileman.

The goal of the first day was for the participants to get to know each other better, but there were activities planned too, like a a St. Patrick's Day Memory Jogger activity, puzzles, and games.  

Moving forward there will be activities that will vary each week that will include conversation, music, arts, and games.

"We might sing, we might dance, whatever they want to do, it's really their cafe to grow and nurture," said Hileman.

People shared stories and experiences with one another while enjoying food and refreshments. One of those who shared his story was Donn Schlotec, who has Alzheimer's disease. 

He says he likes hearing about other's experiences and sharing his own.

"You can communicate with other people and still have fun with other people, but nobody is going to do it for you, and you have to be the one to go out there and do it," said Schlotec.

Schlotec says it helps to talk with other people about any problems he has.

"There's people that will help you, and family that will love you," said Schlotec.   

Hileman says she is looking forward to seeing the friendships that are formed through the event.

"I'm so excited to see the participants flourish and develop new friendships and support from one another through this effort," said Hileman.

Hileman says the Memory Cafe came from the Dementia Friendly Duluth Initiative where polling and community surveys were conducted about 2 years ago. The need and the desire to have a Memory Cafe was then discovered.

The Memory Cafe was made possible with support from The Victory Fund in Duluth.

Memory Cafes began in Holland in 1997 and spread throughout Europe before coming to the United States. The oldest Memory Cafe is in Roseville, Minnesota, and is one of 13 in the state.


Ryan Juntti

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