Let's Talk about It Memory Cafes Provide 'Judgment-Free Zone' for Caregivers and Dementia Patients

By Sodergren, Rebecca | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), April 16, 2019 | Go to article overview

Let's Talk about It Memory Cafes Provide 'Judgment-Free Zone' for Caregivers and Dementia Patients


Sodergren, Rebecca, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


During the past couple of years, Alzheimer's and dementia patients and their caregivers have been meeting in small groups throughout the Pittsburgh area during what are called "memory cafes."

A Dutch psychiatrist developed the memory cafe concept in 1997, and the idea has spread around the world as a means of providing points of connection for both patients and caregivers who otherwise can become isolated from society.

Carrie Chiusano, executive director of Presbyterian SeniorCare's Dementia Care Center of Excellence, once talked with a man who brought his wife to the organization's memory cafe at Somma Pizza in Plum. She asked him why he had never been to Somma Pizza before, and he told her it was "because people give me a glaring look when I take my wife out to a restaurant and she picks up her mashed potatoes and eats them with her fingers."

The memory cafes at Somma Pizza and at Eat'n Park in South Strabane meet in side rooms of the restaurants, allowing attendees a bit of privacy. What the cafes provide, Ms. Chiusano said, is a "judgment-free zone."

Jeanni Watson, marketing director of Arden Courts Memory Care Community, said her organization's first memory cafe started about three years ago. Sue Schmidt, coordinator of a memory cafe at St. David's Episcopal Church in Peters, said her group began about 2½ years ago.

Memory cafes in the Pittsburgh area are held in:

Monroeville: 10 to 11 a.m. on the second Monday of each month at the Monroeville Senior Center, sponsored by Arden Courts of Monroeville. memorycafedirectory.com/memory-cafes-in-pennsylvania.

Plum: 11 a.m. to noon on the second Thursday of each month at the Plum Borough Senior Center, sponsored by Arden Courts of Monroeville. memorycafedirectory.com/memory-cafes-in-pennsylvania.

11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at Somma Pizza, sponsored by Presbyterian SeniorCare. srcare.org/cafe.

Peters: 1 to 3 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month at St. David's Episcopal Church. Contact: sue.schmidty@gmail.com.

South Strabane: 10 a.m. on the third Saturday of each month at Eat'n Park, sponsored by Presbyterian SeniorCare. srcare.org/cafe.

Wilkins: 10 to 11 a.m. on the second Tuesday of each month at Panera, sponsored by Arden Courts of Monroeville. arden-courts-memorycafe.com.

Each memory cafe is different. Caregivers and patients often attend together, although some caregivers attend alone. …

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