Memory Cafe offering dementia sufferers a safe space


Wendy Glance, Coffea Fine Espresso owner Euro Lumb and Keith Glance enjoy a coffee at the Memory Cafe launch.
Wendy Glance, Coffea Fine Espresso owner Euro Lumb and Keith Glance enjoy a coffee at the Memory Cafe launch.

INSPIRED by Ardross couple Keith and Wendy Glance, Memory Cafe is Perth’s first monthly coffee date specifically for people living with dementia.

Hosted by Coffea Fine Espresso in Garden City Shopping Centre, Memory Cafe will take place from 9am to 10.30am on the last Tuesday of every month.

It aims to provide a safe, supportive and inclusive environment where people living with dementia and their carers can meet and socialise.

Garden City marketing manager Clare Riley said the idea was born out of a speech Mr and Mrs Glance gave during the unveiling of Alzheimer’s Australia WA’s Guidelines for the Development of Dementia Friendly Communities at the end of July.

“Keith is a regular shopper who has been coming here for years and there was not a dry eye in the house when he spoke about his journey with dementia and the experiences he’s had when going out into society,” she said.

“Things like going into a toilet and then not being able to find his way out and needing security or a member of the public to rescue him.

“That’s not ideal and as a shopping centre we want to do everything we can to avoid those kinds of situations and become as age-friendly as possible.”

Close to a quarter of City of Melville residents are over the age of 60 and Melville has the second highest number of people living with dementia in WA.

Ms Riley said a large percentage of Garden City shoppers were seniors and centre staff tended to encounter more lost adults than lost children.

“We thought it would be a great idea to create a cafe where people living with dementia and their carers can come and enjoy a coffee and feel included in society,” she said.

“Coffea Fine Espresso owner Euro Lumb has had all of his front line staff trained on how to interact with people living with dementia which takes away the stigma and social anxiety that is sometimes attached to the disease.”

Mrs Glance said dementia could be an incredibly isolating disease and that opportunities to get out and interact with the community were extremely valuable.

“Keith is at the point where he is probably more comfortable with other people with dementia because he doesn’t have to try as hard,” she said.

“He can just sit and not feel like he has to talk and he also knows that if he doesn’t remember somebody’s name it is not going to be an issue.

“There is such a big need for this sort of thing and the fact that the City of Melville and Garden City have just picked it up and run with it is incredible.”

Dementia sufferers at risk of depression too

ALZHEIMER’S Australia WA chief executive Rhonda Parker said one of the saddest things about dementia was people living with the disease being commonly prescribed anti-depressants to deal with the mental anguish of exclusion.

“People with dementia suffer a lot from depression because of the social isolation and the frustration they feel at not being able to socialise easily,” she said.

“Being able to socialise is actually very important for everyone’s well-being and for people with dementia in particular but unfortunately it becomes more and more difficult as the disease progresses.

“There is a very real health benefit to the Memory Cafe initiative and I am very excited because it displays leadership in this space nationally and internationally.

“We are talking about a society that works out how to enable people with dementia to live as well as possible as long as possible.”