Finding Connections And Comfort At The Local Cafe

For Alzheimer’s sufferers and their caregivers, social and emotional isolation is a risk. But tons of of “Memory Cafes” across the nation provide them an opportunity to be with others who perceive, and to obtain social and cognitive stimulation within the course of. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

LOS ANGELES — Doug and Connie Moore met at seminary. He was a pupil and pastor of an inner-city congregation, and she or he was a pupil and a public well being nurse.

“She’s the one who drew me to the needs of the poor,” Doug says.

The pair wed in 1974, and Doug turned a pastor on the First Evangelical Free Church of Los Angeles in 1983. They turned deeply concerned of their group and devoted a lot of their free time to instructing English as a second language, creating tutoring packages and mentoring college students in poor communities right here and overseas.

But lately, the retired couple spends most of their time inside their modest two-bedroom condominium in Los Angeles. “There are a lot of hours spent alone,” says Doug, 69. “I can’t have a conversation with Connie.”

Connie, now 73, was recognized with Alzheimer’s, the commonest type of dementia, in 2015. About 10% of Americans age 65 or older have the illness, in response to the Alzheimer’s Association, together with an estimated 670,000 folks in California.

Doug, Connie’s main caregiver, is aware of his spouse wants as a lot stimulation as doable. So, twice a month, the Moores go to a program sometimes called a “Memory Cafe,” which gives social actions for folks residing with Alzheimer’s and dementia — and their caregivers. Activities embrace artwork, music, poetry, shows and social interplay.

There are greater than 800 common gatherings across the nation listed within the Memory Cafe directory, together with greater than 20 in California. Some conferences go by completely different names akin to “Memory Mornings” and aren’t listed within the listing. The gatherings happen in espresso retailers, hospitals, libraries, colleges, senior facilities and faith-based organizations. Free of cost to members, the cafes are normally funded by grants, people, company sponsorships or faith-based organizations.

“Participating in social activities does not just provide social and cognitive stimulation for both the caregiver and the loved one, but they give each the opportunity to create new social groups for themselves with people who understand their situation,” stated Susan Howland, packages director for the Alzheimer’s Association California Southland Chapter.

Doug and Connie Moore have been married for 45 years and have two kids and one grandchild. Doug says he by no means dreamed his spouse would get Alzheimer’s. After listening to the analysis, he says, “we both wept.” (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Every morning, Doug reads Connie Scriptures from the Bible whereas she eats breakfast. Doug says his religion has remained strong by means of the method of caring for his spouse. “Not to say that there are not moments when I come to tears,” he says. “But I can see her faith is still there.” (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Before she retired, Connie was the director of nursing providers for the Los Angeles Unified School District, accountable for seven-figure budgets and a big workers. When her capability to do math began to fail, Doug knew one thing was flawed. Connie wants assist bathing and dressing, however nonetheless remembers Doug, her kids and the names of her two Siamese cats — Frodo and Emi.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Connie’s Alzheimer’s was recognized early however superior quickly. As the illness progressed, the couple confronted inevitable unhappiness and occasional questions of “Why me, Lord?” Doug says. “She always verbalized she feared she would be abandoned because of the disease.”(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Doug helps Connie dress for his or her Memory Mornings assembly. Picking out his spouse’s garments has been a problem as a result of, Doug says, he’s not solely certain the right way to put collectively an outfit. A parishioner from his church helps just a few hours per week, selecting outfits for the approaching days. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

As Connie’s dementia progresses, dressing and grooming develop into more durable for her. For now, she remains to be in a position to comb her hair and brush her tooth.

Doug and Connie head to the native Alzheimer’s Los Angeles workplace, about 5 minutes from their condominium, for his or her bimonthly Memory Mornings gathering. The actions embrace pet remedy, arts, music, dance and storytelling. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Licensed scientific social employee Sarah Jacobus leads a gaggle of 19 caregivers and sufferers in an train referred to as TimeSlips, which is an improvisational storytelling approach that stimulates the creativeness of individuals with Alzheimer’s. “People may not remember that I’ve been there a week ago, but they remember the pictures and the storytelling,” she says. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

As a part of the TimeSlips train, all members are given the identical photograph and requested to reply questions on what’s taking place within the scene. “Every person in the group responded in their own way, with a range of verbal capacity and lucidity. But they responded!” Jacobus says.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Linda Goldfinger, the facilitator of Memory Mornings, writes down the group’s descriptions of what’s taking place within the photograph. At the tip of the train, she compiles the responses right into a story, sorts it up and provides a replica to every participant.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Karen Pearson and her companion, Ilene Barg, work on formulating an outline of the photograph. Karen is Ilene’s caregiver and an everyday participant in this system. “The connections being made are so valuable,” Pearson says. “No matter what the content, we always walk away with a good feeling.” (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

The conferences permit Connie to work together with others with the identical illness, Doug says, they usually assist him be taught new methods to have interaction and entertain Connie at dwelling. But the gatherings additionally function a actuality verify on Connie’s cognitive talents. “Today, she could not verbalize or answer the questions,” Doug says. “In my mind, I would put her at the bottom of the group.” (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Doug and Connie head dwelling after spending two hours on the Memory Mornings assembly. The conferences usually are not meant to function respite for the caregiver, however as a secure place the place the couple can socialize with others in the identical scenario.(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Doug prepares lunch for Connie after getting back from the assembly. Connie says she’s hungry, however she doesn’t say a lot else. “I try to talk to her,” Doug says. “But you can’t have a dialogue with her.”(Heidi de Marco/KHN)

Connie retains herself busy for hours fidgeting with random objects, akin to Frodo’s felt cat toy. Even although Doug tries to maintain a busy calendar for himself and Connie, he nonetheless feels a way of loneliness. “There are a lot of hours spent alone, no matter what we do,” he says. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

This KHN story first revealed on California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

Heidi de Marco:”>, @Heidi_deMarco

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