Posted by Beth Soltzberg

"I've made so many friends here. This is what we need – a place where we're treated like everybody else."

"It gives me a feeling of home."

These are the words of guests attending memory cafés, social gatherings for people living with Alzheimer's or a related disorder, their family members, friends, and caregivers. When JF&CS started its monthly memory café in 2014, it was the second memory café in Massachusetts.

We are thrilled to announce that four years later, there are now more than one hundred memory cafés in the Bay State! Read on to learn all about the history of memory cafés in Massachusetts and the opening of the hundredth café.

History of Memory Cafés in the Commonwealth

Soon after JF&CS opened its memory café, our guests started asking for more meeting times and locations so that they could enjoy the café atmosphere more than once a month.

JF&CS responded by launching the JF&CS Percolator Memory Café Network, which assists other organizations in starting and running their cafés.

The Percolator offers a free Memory Café Toolkit, a directory to help café coordinators find guest artists to lead expressive arts activities at their café, and distributes tips and ideas so that no one has to "reinvent the wheel" when starting their café. It provides technical assistance and convenes quarterly meetings to share best practices. JF&CS also hosts a statewide Memory Café Directory, so Massachusetts residents can easily find cafés in their neighborhood.

About the One Hundredth Café

We recently added the one hundredth listing to the Memory Café Directory: "Break at Tiffany's" café at the Bigelow Free Library in Clinton. Miatta Edi-Osagie, the founder of Break at Tiffany's, is tailoring the café to fit the needs and interests of her local community. She plans to offer home-cooked refreshments, music, and other interactive creative arts activities. The creative arts are a core part of many memory cafés because they bring people together and are engaging for people with a wide range of interests, cognitive needs, and abilities.

Other recent milestones for memory cafés in Massachusetts include the launch of the second Spanish speaking memory café at the Salem Senior Center, joining Aroma de Café in Lawrence. Additionally, the first Portuguese speaking café, Café da Memória, just opened in New Bedford. We hope to see cafés become available to more linguistic and cultural communities and in every corner of Massachusetts over time.

Congratulations to Miatta and all of the other café coordinators who are providing places that "feel like home" to people living with dementia and those who care about them!

See Memory Cafés in Action

Want a sneak peek of what it is like to visit a memory café? Check out this one-minute video profiling our cafés in English and Spanish.

Beth Soltzberg, LCSW, MBA, is the director of the Alzheimer's/Related Disorders Family Support program at JF&CS. Beth leads the JF&CS Percolator Memory Café Network and Dementia Friends Massachusetts and is a strategic partner in Dementia Friendly Massachusetts. Beth earned her MSW and MBA from the University of Chicago and a certificate in end-of-life care from the Smith College School of Social Work. She holds an advanced credential in hospice and palliative care social work.