Building a community

Dementia has a significant impact on social lives

People with dementia say that after they are diagnosed, family and friends often become more distant or stop calling. 

Often this is because people are not sure how to approach the person who has dementia. This social isolation can exacerbate symptoms of dementia or lead to loneliness and depression.

Cafe

Alzheimer’s Australia is working to tackle the stigma and isolation which can too often be part of living with dementia. We have supported a number of Dementia Friendly Community pilot projects and other work to promote social inclusion and support.

Alzheimer’s Australia recently launched a Community Café Toolkit with support from the Department of Health. It provides information for organisatiions, service providers, community groups and others to develop their own community cafes.

This toolkit was based on the success of local Dementia Community Cafes which have been running in parts of Australia since 2002. The program is designed as a safe and welcoming social get-together where people with dementia can continue to be connected and engaged, and address the common feelings of isolation that are experienced as a result of a diagnosis of dementia.

Pat, a consumer involved in the Community Café project, says “I like going to the café. It is somewhere I can talk to people, have a laugh, talk about serious things and talk about silly things…We can talk about anything that worries us. Sometimes you feel something has gone wrong again and I used to get a bit rattled about that, but now I have people I can talk to.”

Another consumer, Chris and her husband, Alan, have been attending a Community Café on the central coast of NSW for the past two years. Chris says that “the community café in our area has been a great support to both of us in so many ways. This is not just because of the special bond we have formed with people in the same boat as us, but also, because of the wonderful help we have received from our Younger Onset Dementia Key Worker, Justine, who also attends.”

The Community Café Toolkit contains:

  • A manual with instructions on how to establish and run a community café in your region; and
  • Tools in the form of checklists, templates and resources to assist you in getting started and to assist in the day-to-day running of your café. These tools can be adapted to the needs of the community.

For more information, or to download a copy of the toolkit, please visit the toolkit page here.