The Village of Keremeos is helping support work towards more dementia friendly communities after voting on Feb. 5 to donate $1,500 for a Memory Cafe.
Medical Arts Health Research has been holding the cafes in the valley since 2023, with the last memory cafe at Row 14 in Cawston bringing 109 people out on Dec. 5, 2023.
The Dec. 5 cafe, the fourth held in 2023, had internationally recognized speaker and Dementia Alliance International partner Christine Thelker join the conversation.
The cafes are part of pilot program towards making more communities dementia friendly by advancing the inclusion, education and support for those with memory loss, dementia and their caregivers.
In addition to the funding, the Village of Keremeos is beginning to work towards Dementia Friendly Community status.
Medical Arts Health Research is working together with the University of B.C. Okanagan’s Rural Health Equity team, the Alzheimer’s Society of BC, Interior Health, local Indigenous bands and municipalities.
The cafes in the Similkameen have grown in popularity since they started in January of 2023, with the first bringing in 25 people to Cawston Hall, followed by 45 people at the Similkameen Rec Centre and then 74 people at Cawston Hall again.
Two more cafes are currently planned in Naramata and Oliver before coming back to Keremeos.
The funding from the Village will go towards holding an outdoor cafe in Keremeos in the spring or summer at the Similkameen Rec Centre.
Local businesses in the community have also supported the cafes, and over 40 people volunteered to help put them on in 2023.
All memory cafes are free and participation from the community is encouraged, both from people who have dementia and from those who are caring for their loved ones with dementia in their own homes in the community.
Memory cafes were originally created in the Netherlands in the 1990s as a way of breaking down the stigma that many with dementia face. They have since spread, and are often included in efforts to make more dementia-friendly communities. The goal is to have individuals with dementia able to live well in communities that offer understanding and support for them and their caregivers.