Sometimes the simplest thing – a song, a smile, a dance – can mean everything. When you have dementia, there aren’t many places to go. At Our Moment Cafe, caregivers and patients can find acceptance.
Started by Dick Boyden and Joan Bender, Our Moment Cafe in The Villages, Florida is bringing moments of joy, connection and love to those with memory impairments and their caregivers. The group organizes meeting places that feature live performances, singing, dancing, art projects, sports, tai chi and more, all aimed at helping those with memory impairments to interact and participate with one another.
“This was something that most people would never do. But we’re trained, we’re able, we’re qualified,” Bender explained.
The couple says the initial response to their idea was positively overwhelming when they first placed an ad in the local paper.
“The phone rang off the hook for two weeks!” Boyden laughed.
They’ve been in demand ever since as one of few opportunities to combat the isolation and the loneliness that so often confront not just the person, but their caregiver, too.
“We provide a safe and supportive atmosphere where they can have fun, whether it’s interactive activities or just sitting down and having a cookie and talking with each other. The key here is not entertainment, it’s engagement,” Boyden explained.
“And we love these people with our hearts,” Bender chimed in. “They’ll call us to talk and we ask how they are doing. We love what we do.”
The smiles, joy and heartfelt connection flowed throughout The Villages recreation center as dozens of couples danced and sang to a live music performance arranged by Our Moment Cafe. But perhaps the most joy in the room could be felt by 100-year-old Marguerite Bacon , who has Alzheimer’s disease , and was in attendance with her daughter Jeanette who is her caregiver.
“This is fun. This is living,” Marguerite said. “Just being out with other people. I love life!”
“She’s not fighting it,” Jeanette explained. “She’s cooperating with it and making the best of it and making the best of every day.”.
Thanks to Joan, Dick and the volunteers that make up Our Moment Cafe, People with dementia and those who stay by their side are given a chance to do what Marguerite at a hundred years old believes we all should do.
“Oh, live each day, live each day and enjoy!”
This article is featured in the Spring 2023 issue of The Growing Bolder Digital Digest.