The waitstaff may not get the orders quite right and the customers may have to wait a while for water of tea, but the Cafe of Mistaken Orders in Japan benefits everyone. Once a month, people with dementia don their orange aprons and serve understanding customers at a small Tokyo cafe. According to a recent Washington Post article, Japan is encouraging ways for older people with dementia to continue be part of the community even as their memory fades. The cafe is "a safe space where they can interact with new people, be productive and feel needed — key to slowing down the progression of dementia," according to writers Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Julia Mio Inuma.
Social interaction and engaging, meaningful activities are at the heart of everything we do at Among Friends. Conversations between participants and volunteers, between participants and their newfound friends are an important part of our day's activities. We also make cookies together, create greeting cards for distribution at area nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, arrange flowers and make holiday centerpieces for participants' families and area seniors, and take part in appropriate physical activities that encourage movement and dexterity.
As our population ages, we are all going to be affected by dementia in some way, whether it is a member of our family, a good friend, or a neighbor. The more comfortable we are interacting with those with memory loss and making them part of our community, the better we will all be. Dementia-friendly initiatives in both American and international cities are becoming more common. The Netherlands has created an entire village outside of Amsterdam, as the New York Times recently reported:
If it looked like a typical Dutch town — with a restaurant (which is open to the public), a theater, a pub and a cluster of quaint two-story brick townhomes on a gridded street map — well, that’s the point. Many of the people here don’t realize that they are living in the world’s first so-called “dementia village,” and it can be difficult for visitors to tell the difference between the residents and the plainclothes staff.
In Denmark, a dementia village "focuses on stimulating residents and is designed as a genuine village with a city square surrounded by shops such as a restaurant, a bar, a hairdresser, a theater, a music library, a wellness salon where residents can get manicures and massages, an exercise center, and a closed garden. Residents live in communal housing with shared kitchens and living rooms in addition to having their own apartment" (Daily Scandinavian).
Resources such as these are not yet available to most Americans. However, we can still take small steps to make the lives of our loved ones with memory loss or physical frailties a little less lonely and a bit more fun. Among Friends provides a safe and supportive environment to find joy in the small things--music, art, movement, and friends. Call us at 715-293-2561 or email us email@example.com.