In 2022 almost 490,000 Australians were living with dementia and over 1.6 million people were involved in the care of someone with the condition. Dementia “is a broad term used to describe a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning” (dementia.org.au, 2022). Those who know someone with dementia are sadly well aware that side effects from it can include isolation, loneliness, and withdrawal from social settings.
Angi McCluskey saw this first-hand when her husband was diagnosed with dementia and also that there was a, “Lack of community led groups that would allow loved ones and their carers to enjoy a quiet cuppa together with others in similar positions.” (forgetmenotmemorycafe.com, 2020). Angi, along with a group of like-minded individuals, started the first Forget Me Not Memory Café in Roleystone in 2017, and since then it has grown to over 20 locations.
Bindoon Library Officer, Annie Hudson, saw the need for a local memory café during her consultation with library members regarding dementia-friendly books and resources. In February of this year, she went to meet Angi and the team at the York café, hosted at the local CRC. Getting to see a café in action and speaking with attendees and organisers was enough to confirm that this type of event would be able to work in the library setting.
After a couple of months of planning, gathering supplies, consulting with local health professionals, and the necessary promotions, Bindoon’s first Forget Me Not Memory Café was held on Tuesday, 16 May. There was a big crowd, with almost 30 people attending, which included the Forget Me Not team, Shire councillors, Carmel Ross and John Curtis, Shire executives, CEO Melinda Prinsloo and EMTS Leo Pudhota, and Library volunteers. Most importantly were members of the community who are travelling this road and they came from all over the Shire of Chittering, as well as just outside its boundaries.
“All are welcome to attend,” says Annie. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a library member, if you reside in the Shire or not. This is a purely social occasion – a place where people come to socialise, to make connections, and to gain support from others. The regular meetings won’t be as busy as the first one so that will make it more comfortable for those who don’t like crowds.”
The café is held in the Bindoon Library on the third Tuesday of each month from 10am – 12pm. Morning tea and different activities are provided. David McSweeney, local musician, will be attending some sessions to lead a sing-a-long, and there are informational pamphlets for those wanting to learn more.
“And of course there are the library resources,” Annie adds. “We have a range of fiction and non-fiction books that are specifically written for those with dementia so they can still enjoy their love of reading. We also have several memory boxes available to borrow. These themed boxes contain a range of items designed to stimulate memories, engage the senses, and promote shared experiences.”
Anyone wishing more information regarding the Forget Me Not Memory Café or these resources can contact Annie on 95764610 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.