FBC's Alzheimer Café (AZ café) has been up and running for about a year now. We have had our struggles, but the last few cafes have seen a steady increase in the numbers of guests. The feedback we have received has been very heartwarming and positive.
Here are a couple of encouraging notes from our guests:
"We were so pleased to learn about the FBC Alzheimer Café through our church bulletin. It was so timely as my husband had just been diagnosed with possible/probable Alzheimer's disease in February. As we were beginning this new journey in our lives, the café was a safe place to go to meet with others who were "in the same boat" as us. It has been a wonderful place for us to learn more about dementia, have a good time talking with others, and have some fun together. We have made new friends so we can be of support to each other. Knowing that we are not alone on this journey and that we are supported by our brothers and sisters in Christ has really uplifted our hearts and been a wonderful encouragement to us. Thank you for being there for us. God is blessing us through you."
"We love the Alzheimer Café for a variety of reasons. It gives us a place to go where Mom can be fully accepted and beautifully welcomed for who she is and where she's at in her journey. I love how Mom is received at the Café with warm smiles and friendly hugs. She is treated as a special person, and that warms both of our hearts. In other environments, people get confused by behaviour they don't understand; so they retreat. At the Café, there's no judgment, just acceptance and warmth. We also love the music, and the talks enrich the mind and the soul. Thank you for starting the Café and for having such a lovely team of volunteers to make it the special place that it is."
Not only has the AZ café been a blessing to those who have dementia and to their family members, but the café has also had the privilege of supporting 2 different studies done through UBC on the topic of dementia. The first study looked at people living with dementia and their caregivers in order to understand how decisions are made regarding care and what the important things are in order to live well with dementia to the end of life. The second project will look at people with dementia, their struggles with isolation, and the prejudice that they experience in the community.
We have also been approached by a group of medical professionals from Japan who will be coming to North America in early 2020 to see "how the West is dealing with the dementia crisis". This group includes physicians, nurses, social workers, therapists, and dieticians, and they will spend an afternoon with us observing our AZ café in March.
In closing, I believe this ministry is filling an increasing need in our society. A big reason for the success of the FBC AZ Cafés is that we have a great team of dedicated volunteers - THANK YOU!! We are always looking for more volunteers to help in the set-up and cleaning up after a café. We would also welcome any individuals who may have specific knowledge and could lend their expertise on dementia through a short presentation at a café. As well, we are always looking for help with music. One of the highlights of the café is the sing-a-long time. Music is such a wonderful way to stimulate fond memories. If you are interested in volunteering in any capacity, please speak to John Tsang or myself (Ann Liebich) - or any of the other volunteers you might already know to be involved.
The next FBC AZ Café will be on Saturday, October 12th from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.