Memory Café offers coffee, companionship, peace



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Posted on May 1, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Updated Thursday, May 2 at 10:25 AM

RICHARDSON — Alzheimer's disease used to be something nobody talked about. But at the Neighborhood Memory Café — which meets once a month at the Richardson Senior Center — Alzheimer's is the main topic of conversation.

Just about everyone there either has some form of dementia, or is the caregiver for someone who does.

And that brings a flood of contentment to just about everybody who walks through the door.

Deaths from Alzheimer's were up 68 percent between 2000 and 2010. One in three Americans dies from some form of dementia.

There is no cure, so an Alzheimer's diagnosis is a kind of sentence for patients and the people who care for them.

The Memory Café provides a few hours of escape and shared experience. It's not really a Café... just a room at the Richardson Senior Center where participants bring their own coffee and snacks.

The coffee is only window dressing; it's companionship that fuels to the gathering.

"Positive, positive, positive! Upbeat, upbeat, upbeat!" says Carol Larkin, a trainer with Third Age Services who helps families deal with dementia. "We want people to know that there's good days, fun days, and people can be happy."

"Having Alzheimer's, sometimes you feel very alone," said Lee Sneller, who has been diagnosed with the disease. "Having a chance to talk with other people who are going through the same thing that we're dealing with, it makes it so much easier."

Pat Sneller, Lee's wife, said it's not just the diagnosed who benefit from the café.

"The caregivers frankly need to talk," she said. "Even if it isn't about some issue that they're trying to deal with at home, it's good to talk to someone else who's living with it. So I think we all benefit a lot."

Mrs. Sneller was the force behind organizing the café nine months ago.

"Our slogan is: 'There's life after Alzheimer's,'" she said. "And if we can have one family get that, then we've done what we've set out to do. One family at a time."

There are now four Neighborhood Memory Cafés in the Dallas area:

Richardson Neighborhood Memory Café

  • Meets the first Thursday of each month from 10-11:30 a.m.
  • Richardson Senior Center, 820 West Arapaho Road, Richardson
  • Call for more information: Sydney Farrier LCSW, 469-853-9750

Lewisville Neighborhood Memory Café

  • Meets the third Friday of each month from 10-11:15 a.m.
  • Lewisville Senior Activity Center, 1950-A South Valley Parkway, Lewisville
  • Call for more information: Dr. Patti Dickson, 972-941-7335

Plano Neighborhood Memory Café

  • Meets the third Tuesday of each month from 6-7 p.m.
  • Plano Senior Recreation Center, 401 West 16th Street, Plano
  • Call for more information: Dr. Patti Dickson, 972.921.7335

Allen Neighborhood Memory Café

  • Meets the second Monday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon
  • Allen Senior Recreation Center, 451 East St. Mary Street, Allen
  • Call for more information: Dr. Patti Dickson, 972-941-7335