SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – An international movement that has made its way here to the Land of Enchantment is changing the lives of those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Organizers of Santa Fe’s “Alzheimer’s Cafe” say it’s taking the elephant out of the room and creating a judgment free zone for those people and their family members coping with the disease.
For families living with Alzheimer’s, the disease is a constant presence. It also means that for many, being out in public becomes stressful as it worsens.
The Alzheimer’s Café in Santa Fe is providing a safe space to share those feelings with others dealing with the same thing.
Jvtte Lokvig created the Santa Fe location nearly nine years ago. While there are now hundreds across the country and even the world, Lokvig’s was the first in the United States.
Since then, she’s helped hundreds through the monthly gathering set up for people living with or affected by the neurodegenerative disease. She says it gives everybody a welcome break from the illness.
“It doesn’t even matter if they remember that they were here or not. If it feels good, if they’re happy, at least that particular day will be a really good day,” said Lokvig.
At the café, crafts and sing-alongs are just a few of the things participants can do. These activities serve as an ice breaker in a way for many with dementia like Susan Balkman, who after being diagnosed, isolated herself from the world.
“Some days you just sit there and you don’t do anything you just watch. It took me a while to participate because I was scared. But when you start to do that and get to know everybody then it’s fun,” said Balkman.
The first Alzheimer’s cafe was created 20 years ago by a doctor in the Netherlands.
While the Santa Fe location was the first one here in the U.S., the “Alzheimer’s Cafe” meets on the second Wednesday of every month at the Children’s Museum in Santa Fe.
There is also one located in Albuquerque. It meets the second Saturday of the month from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at St. John’s United Methodist Church.
For more information on Alzheimer’s Café, click here.