Everyone needs a village - a support system, a group of friends, an understanding family, etc. Without said village, people feel isolated and alone. Imagine living with dementia AND feeling socially isolated and lonely due to lack of support. Dr. Roslyn Compton from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) College of Nursing is partnering with a local aging-in-place community to provide activity-based sessions bringing together persons living with dementia and their caregivers.
“Many residents living in rural communities surrounding Saskatoon, SK report social isolation, lack of knowledge related to dementia and caregiving, limited opportunities to access resources, and the stigma of living with dementia as the reality of their daily lives,” said Dr. Compton.
Together with Crossmount Senior Health Corp, Dr. Compton is helping with the educational programming piece offered at the Crossmount Memory Café. “The Crossmount Memory Café provides a supportive, social and educational community for people living with dementia, and their caregivers. Our collaboration provides the Memory Café with access to overall knowledge and expertise regarding caring for persons living with dementia and their caregivers.”
Currently, the Memory Café provides a two-hour opportunity, twice-monthly for people living with dementia and their caregivers, to interact with others through a stimulating, supportive and educational network. Participants can engage in activities, such as light exercise, creating art, playing games, enjoying live music, as well as, a variety of other hands-on activities.
“Crossmount is an aging-in-place retirement community where the health and wellness of residents’ forms the foundation for all services and programs offered on-site”, said Sarah Streisel, Health and Wellness Coordinator, Crossmount Senior Health Corp. “We place a special focus on the promotion of healthy lifestyles by emphasizing the importance of having strong support systems set in place for the prevention, maintenance, and management of chronic disease. Our community strives to help residents achieve optimal health and enhance well-being through on-site access to a full slate of health services and quality of life programming. One piece of that puzzle is the Crossmount Memory Café, which provides a dementia-friendly social atmosphere for people who may otherwise have limited opportunities to engage with others experiencing similar dementia related health and social barriers.”
Streisel and Compton recently received funding from the Government of Canada as part of the New Horizons for Seniors Program for their work with the Memory Café. They plan to use the funding for a number of initiatives.
Dr. Compton describes the year-long project as follows. “We are going to start by recruiting additional senior volunteers to help with our programming. Then we are going to consult with the community and current participants to identify key topics and activities for inclusion at the Café. We will train volunteers in dementia care, group facilitation, mentorship and scheduling, as well as in-motion facilitators. We will work with these volunteers to schedule and book live entertainment, hands-on and intergenerational activities, etc. We will work with the in-motion facilitators on scheduling and delivering exercise sessions for participants.”
There are a number of people who will benefit from participation in the activities outlined above at the Memory Café. Not only will the person living with dementia benefit from participation, but individuals, including family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances of the participants and volunteers.
“We hope by providing opportunities for mutual support and the exchange of knowledge between participants, we will provide a sense of connection and belonging comfortable enough to address common feelings of isolation and vulnerability for participants, their caregivers and volunteers,” said Dr. Compton. She went on to say, “we also hope to provide positive opportunities and intergenerational experiences to improve the overall quality of life of participants and volunteers through successful participation in Memory Café sessions and activities.”
The Crossmount Memory Café takes place at Crossmount’s Arts Barn venue, located approximately 5 KM south of Saskatoon on Highway 219.
For more information, or to register as a Café volunteer or participant, please contact Sarah Streisel at 306.374.9893 or email@example.com.
This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program.