A recent article by Ginger Fligger with Pinal-Gila Council for Seniors states 173,000 people in Arizona will live with Alzheimer’s or another condition that causes the symptoms of dementia – memory loss, difficulty making decisions and communicating, and disorientation or confusion – by 2020.
In Pinal County the estimated number of individuals living with Alzheimer’s is 2,440. Individuals living with dementia as well as their spouse, child or others who are close to them often become socially isolated, due to stigma and lack of public understanding about dementia, as well as the difficulty in managing daily tasks.
Fligger goes on to report, “However, we are fortunate in Pinal County to have a new program called Memory Café, which has been implemented by Pinal-Gila Council for Senior Citizens.”
The Memory Café is a welcoming, social gathering for people living with dementia and their families, friends and caregivers. The number of family caregivers continues to grow in proportion to the aging population. The demands on family caregivers are multi-faceted. Demands are physical, emotional, financial and spiritual.
Most of the caregivers PGCSC works with are caring for either a spouse or a parent. These amazing individuals make personal sacrifices every day, placing their loved ones’ needs ahead of their own. PGCSC is offering an opportunity to put those demands to the side for a short period of time, enjoy a cup of coffee and make a connection with friends.
Guests are welcome whose dementia is due to any underlying condition, and at any stage of disease progression. The atmosphere is more like a coffeehouse or a neighborhood party than a clinical program. Guests are not asked their diagnosis. This way, individuals who have not been diagnosed or are not comfortable with their diagnosis feel welcome.
Information about resources and services is available for those who seek it. However, the Memory Café is to provide a break from focusing on disease and disability and just focus on having an enjoyable time.
The Memory Café meets the third Tuesday of every month at 10 a.m. at the PGCSC office located at 8969 W. McCartney Road in Casa Grande. Ginger Fligger, 520-836-2758
Joan Koczor is a Maricopa resident and senior advocate.
This column appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.