History of Memory Cafés
The creator of the Memory Café is the Dutch psychiatrist Bere Miesen. Dr. Miesen noticed that talking about dementia was often taboo, even among family members. In 1997, Dr. Miesen introduced the Memory Café in the Netherlands. Since then, Memory Cafés have spread all across Europe, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
The first Memory Café in the United States was established by Dr. Jytte Lokvig in 2008 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The American version focuses very much on the individual with memory loss. The Café serves as a safe haven and respite from the frustrations of living with a memory disorder. Participants explore art, music, and poetry, forming friendships, socializing, and laughing - a lot!
Dr. Lokvig's Santa Fe Memory Café remained the only one in the northern hemisphere until a brief article in the April 2011 AARP Bulletin brought the concept to the attention of the greater eldercare community.
As of July 2013 there were more than 100 Alzheimer's Cafés and Memory Cafés in the United States. At least 12 of these are located in New England, including ours in Montpelier, Vermont.