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Memory Cafes: An Environmental Scan

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Memory cafés are expanding across the United States, mirroring the dramatic increase in Americans who have or are expected to have Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) in coming years. By offering social support and connection, socialization, health, and wellbeing to participants (at any stage of disease progression) – and importantly, to their caregivers – in a welcoming environment, memory cafés are also of increasing interest to funders for the critical need they meet and unique supports they provide.

In August 2020, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and Health Foundation for Western & Central New York commissioned The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) to conduct an environmental scan of memory cafés with emphasis on their development in the U.S. Driven by the facts that 1 in every 10 Americans age 65 and older is living with a diagnosis of ADRD, and that those numbers are expected to increase to 14 million by 2050, the scan:

  • Defines and describes memory cafés, including their core characteristics and geographic presence
  • Summarizes the demonstrated benefits of memory cafés for participants and caregivers (as identified in the literature)
  • Articulates the effective components and best practices of cafés and offers practical guidelines and tools for their implementation
  • Identifies drivers of successful memory café expansion
  • Explores potential applications of the model with other populations, including isolated older adults and caregivers

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