The Alzheimer Café, The Avila Centre, Bloomfield Ave, off Morehampton Rd, Donnybrook, Dublin 4
I didn’t know too much about Alzheimer’s or Dementia when a friend in work asked me one day if I’d like to join her that Thursday for coffee and cake at The Alzheimer Café in Donnybrook. She’s a big supporter of the Café so it’s dear to her heart. I agreed whole heartedly. I didn’t know what to expect but if you put coffee and cake into any invitation, I’ll most likely agree to be there. On a serious note though, I really didn’t know what to expect. I’d read the information on The Alzheimer Café website and watched their video which I have to say did give great insight but I suppose I didn’t know where I would fit in. The Alzheimer Cafe is a sanctuary for those with dementia, their families and friends, and health and social care professionals. I was none of these. My uncle had passed away from Alzheimer’s many years ago but I only remembered him from my younger and his good and remembering days and so I couldn’t relate to the disease apart from knowing that it comes in many shapes. I knew I wouldn’t know anyone at the Café apart from my friend and as she was a volunteer, I knew she’d be busy doing volunteer stuff. I guess I was a little nervous and thought I’d be left on my own. How wrong was I!
On entering the Cafe that Thursday, I remember being welcomed to such a surprise. The room which is used for the Café was decked out like … a Café and the type of Café I’d visit. There was pretty vintage style bunting hanging on the walls. The tables were covered in funky floral tablecloths. On each table, sitting patiently for their visitors sat vintage china cups, saucers and plates all mix-matched but perfectly suiting each other. Napkins were folded. Sugar bowls were brimming. Fresh milk in pretty milk china jugs laid the path to even prettier china teapots … and delicately displayed on cake plates and stands was a fine selection of cake and treats, some homemade, some shop bought but all deserving the attention they got. Wow! The room felt warm and inviting.
As my friend busied herself with organising the remaining tables with their provisions I sat at a table with a chair that called my name. Visitors by this time had begun to enter the Café and take their seats, talk and chat. I introduced myself to those at ‘my’ table and that was it. I’d made my first Alzheimer Café friends. We chatted and laughed. We quietened down when the speakers took hold of the microphone to speak, advise and answer questions. We discussed what had been said. Finished our coffee’s, teas and cakes and bid each other and everyone else good night until next month. That was nearly a year ago and I’ve been going to The Alzheimer Café since. Now I’m the Volunteer and one that recently introduced one of my friends to the Café. I’m sure she felt exactly how I did on her first visit but like me she’s been going ever since.
I’ve learnt so much from my Alzheimer Café evenings, about myself but more importantly about Dementia and it’s causes. Do you know that …
At present, there are 42,000 Irish people with dementia; by 2021 there will be 67,500 and by 2041 there will be over 140,000 people living with dementia.
There are 50,000 family carers of people with dementia in Ireland.
There are over 26,000 people with dementia living in the community and over 14,000 living in long-term care.
(The Alzheimer Society of Ireland)
These statistics really speak for themselves on why we should all know about Dementia. Know how to recognise it. Know what to do with it. It speaks volumes on why it should be talked about and supported. Why families, neighbours and communities should work together to help support those who are living with someone with Dementia or suffer from it themselves. The more we talk about it and educate ourselves and each other, the better living life can be.
The Alzheimer Café in Donnybrook may have been the first of its kind in Ireland back in 2011 but it’s not the only one. There are café’s in Glasnevin and Rathfarnham in Dublin, Cork, Sligo, Tipperary, Kilkenny, Carlow, Meath, Monaghan, Wicklow and Kildare with plans on Café’s for other counties in progress.
As a Volunteer I value the Café. If you are one of the 42,000 people in Ireland with Dementia or affected by it you will value it too. It will be a new lease of life for you.
For more information on The Alzheimer Café, Donnybrook, you can visit their website here www.alzheimercafe.ie. The Café takes place on the second Thursday of every month. For more information on Alzheimer Café’s around Ireland you can visit The Alzheimer Society of Ireland website here www.alzheimer.ie/Services-Support/Resources/Alzheimer-Cafe-s.aspx. For the moment though, take five or so minutes to watch this great video of The Alzheimer Café, Donnybrook, presented by the wonderful Sinéad Grennan …
If you would like to show your support to The Alzheimer Café in Donnybrook, I do know there is always a need for some new old china … be it cups, saucers, plates or teapots as accidents do happen! and silver foil trays don’t really go with china! If you would like to donate, please do so at The Avila Centre. If that doesn’t suit you can purchase the soundtrack to the short film above – a 3-track Walking With My Love EP from Mary Black and Finbar Furey with all proceeds going to the Alzheimer Café. To do this just visit The Alzheimer Cafe website www.alzheimercafe.ie.