Memories Cafe and other initiatives to foster a dementia-inclusive society

We at the Alzheimer's Disease Association (ADA) are heartened by the Oct 18 editorial (More graceful city, a 'silver dividend').

The ADA fully agrees that the building of the hardware of daycare centres and nursing homes is insufficient and that we, as a society, must also develop the software part of the equation.

In fact, since 2014, the ADA has been running the popular Memories Cafe programme, where we work with eateries throughout Singapore to provide a normalised cafe setting for people with dementia.

The programme is an outing for such individuals and their caregivers to pre-selected cafes, and includes engagement activities such as sing-alongs, music performances, and drama activities led by staff, community artists and volunteers.

This is followed by social interaction among people with dementia, caregivers and cafe customers.

The objectives are to reduce the societal stigma of dementia through activities, discussions and talks about the diseaseand to provide a safe, supportive and conducive environment for all.

Last year, we conducted 42 Memories Cafe sessions, with 1,218 people attending.

Late last year, we launched the ADA Cafe at Agape Village in Toa Payoh. This is the first such establishment in Singapore that provides persons with young-onset and early-stage dementia with the chance to help out in a cafe.

Through this specialised programme, we hope to help make the integration of people with dementia less challenging by minimising the socio-economic burden and harsh lifestyle changes caused by the disease.

This year, the ADA piloted a programme with a church to train volunteers to provide engagement for people with dementia in their parish. The programme seeks to provide community care for these people through the participation of caregivers in shared caregiving, which allows caregivers to have respite time for themselves.

As the pilot has proven to be popular, we plan to roll out this programme with other faith-based communities in other parts of the country.

Going forward, the ADA plans to partner the Lien Foundation on several dementia-friendly, community-related initiatives in the coming years.

This is in line with the ADA's vision to move "towards a dementia-inclusive society", and our mission to be the voice for people with dementia and to enable them to continue to live with dignity and respect.

Jason Foo

Chief Executive Officer

Alzheimer's Disease Association

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2017, with the headline 'Memories Cafe and other initiatives to foster a dementia-inclusive society'. Print Edition | Subscribe