At 4 o’clock on the second Wednesday of each month, a group of people living with a diagnosis of dementia, along with their care partners, gathers in the Wellness Center at LG Health/Penn Medicine’s Suburban Outpatient Pavilion.
They come to reminisce about good times and share the burdens of bad ones, supporting each other through the unique journey of memory loss.
The Memory Café, as this support group is known, was suggested three years ago by Harry Urban, who has been living with Alzheimer’s disease for 12 years. It is one of four such services offered by the Alzheimer’s and Memory Care Program.
“We don’t know what topics will come up when we get there,” said Ken Smiley, whose wife, Joanne, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two years ago. “We talk about medications, frustrations, advice we might have. Last week we talked about driving and how to know when it’s the right time to stop. Sometimes it’s not that they aren’t good drivers but more that they get lost.”
Another Café participant agreed. “I love coming because I can share my feelings without worrying about being judged,” said Noreen Howard, who suffers from dementia and attends with her husband, Jack.
“Harry likes to call it ‘Cheers without the alcohol,’ ” said Nurse Case Manager Connie Metzler. “When you’re living with cognitive impairment, it’s important to know that you’re not alone, that there is support for you.”
Other support groups include a caregivers group (which meets at 7 p.m. the second Monday of each month), an early stage support group (an eight-week class that meets for two hours each week) and a group for those coping and living with a dementia diagnosis (offered on a quarterly basis).
For more information on the Memory Café or any of the other services of The Alzheimer’s and Memory Care Program, please call (717) 544-3539.