Developing a Memory Café

Developing a Team to Provide the Café

  • Talk with other groups who can provide mentorship
  • Partner with an organization which can provide structure for Café
  • Looking in a specific area to have alternate dates within an area so families can alternate between locations
  • Encourage people to either donate time at the café or donate supplies
  • Takes someone to coordinate the volunteers – done by the Dementia Friendly team
  • Local library might have kits which could be turned into a program
  • South Loop creates a six-month plan of themes and then coordinates the volunteers
Memory Café – Naperville

Selecting a Location

  • Find a location that provides a quiet space
  • Find a location with good lighting and ability to turn down any background music
  • Find a location that is supportive and understands what is being offered
  • Using a space which is involved in Senior programming for the community
  • Partnering with Fire District which has community space.
  • If in a common space pick a time that is quieter
  • If in a restaurant, provide training for the restaurant staff

Developing the Structure and Programming

  • Should the program be virtual and/or in-person
  • Have a resource table – order material from NIH/NIA
  • Have speakers for each meeting
  • Work on a craft which can be donated to someone else
  • Some meet monthly, the Spanish café in Elgin meets quarterly,
  • Often family comes with person, but some have volunteers to support someone with dementia who comes on their own
  • Food is nice to offer but have to find someone to pay for it
  • Have a list of people who typically attend – have library volunteer who will call people to remind them of upcoming café
  • Have movement, music, art project and a quiz
  • Had ice breakers to help people get to know each other
  • Can last from an hour to an hour and a half


  • Have a Meet and Greet to talk about the program
  • Create flyer and share with groups in the community
  • Advertise on Dementia Friendly Community Facebook page
  • Partner with groups who might have a distribution list
  • Advertise on local radio
  • Word of mouth
  • Use the library
  • Use Chamber of Commerce

Keep the Momentum

  • Know there will be pitfalls and try to work through them
  • There will be ups and downs in attendance
  • Keep partners interested takes effort

Resources for Developing a Café

Wisconsin Memory Café Programs: A Best Practice Guide

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