The Southington Public Library, in partnership with LiveWell dementia specialists, are bringing a trending resource to town. Southington’s own “memory café” will kick off on June 11 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the library.
The monthly program is designed to be a comfortable place that encourages socialization between people living with dementia, along with their caregivers. Each month, participants will be able to work together on a game or craft, or simply talk with one another over light refreshments.
“It’s all about socializing, networking, getting out of home and talking with one another,” said adult program coordinator Liz Chubet. “It’s just a nice light atmosphere.”
According to director of community development at LiveWell Katy Bannister, there are only two memory cafes in Connecticut. There are 110 in Massachusetts and 138 in Wisconsin.
“As part of making a Dementia Friendly Southington, a memory café is a place to gather and combat isolation,” Bannister said. The Southington Public Library is on track to be the first Dementia Friendly library in the state.
Seventy percent of people living with dementia live in their own homes, and often can feel isolated.
“They need places to go, materials, resources, and the staff at the library has been so helpful and supportive for those needs,” said Bannister. “It all fits together. We can’t have a Dementia Friendly community without places to gather, and libraries are modern day community centers, so it’s a perfect fit.”
Memory cafes not only are helpful to people living with dementia, but their caregivers can also benefit by connecting with other caregivers who share similar experiences.
Library director Kristi Sadowski said she and the rest of the library staff are excited to offer a memory café to locals.
“Our staff is caring by nature and strive to make the library accessible,” she said. “We have great support from the Dementia Friendly Southington information sessions at LiveWell, too. We’re thankful to have that and are happy to put it to use.”
Almost all of the library staff have gone through the Dementia Friendly information sessions and have been certified as Dementia Friends. By working with LiveWell, who spearheads Dementia Friendly Southington, library staff have access to LiveWell’s research and input on how to provide a comfortable and resourceful setting for people living with dementia.
The library has undergone several recent changes to better accommodate people living with dementia and their caregivers. One of its newest offerings are “take me back totes.” The tote bags are organized by decade, and are filled with memories from that decade such as news clippings, magazines, books on fashion and other pop culture. Going through the totes can help conjure up memories and be experienced individually or as a conversation starter between family, friends and caregivers.
The library’s memory café will be a monthly program on the second Tuesday of each month. Registration is required prior to the event either online at southingtonlibrary.org or by calling (860) 628-0947 option 5.
Those with memory concerns may attend with a family member, friend or caregiver. The memory café is not intended for unaccompanied persons with significant care needs.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.