We have held 12 memory cafes at our participating libraries. The participation has ranged from 10 to 40 with an average of 18 people in attendance. Attendance figures include one or more care partners and the person living with a form of dementia. There is a memory cafe coordinator, sometimes two, facilitating the memory cafes. We usually enlist volunteers or other librarians from the partner libraries to help with registration, refreshments and just the flow of the program. The four libraries each offer two memory cafes in a row, providing some consistency before rotating to the next location. There are always introductions, usually an ice breaker (e.g. share with the group one of your fondest holiday memories), a themed program and a closing song. Our themes have varied and have been great fun. Please feel free to look through the posts on this site (scroll through the home page, going to page 2 or 3 to see more). Some of the themed programs we’ve offered at the cafes include: Beauty of the Butterfly presented by the Milwaukee Art Museum’s SPARK! program, Herbs for the Senses, a drumming circle and zentangling. We partner with the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeast Wisconsin and the Waukesha County Aging and Disability Resource Center to provide additional support and resources. The Alzheimer’s Association takes registration of new participants which helps ensure they are a good fit for the memory cafe. They also send a staff member to the cafes to help with resource connections. In a similar way, the Aging and Disability Resource Center has a Dementia Care Specialist that comes to all of the cafes to provide resources and support to those in attendance.
The Lake Country Libraries Memory Project had a successful first year and have decided as a group to move forward with planning a full year of memory cafes for 2016. You can see their 2016 schedule here.