History of the JF&CS Memory Café Percolator
In early 2014, JF&CS launched the second memory café in Massachusetts. Several organizations expressed interest in the café model, and guests of the JF&CS Memory Café asked for more locations and meeting dates. To respond, JF&CS launched the Percolator Memory Café Network in October 2014. Since then, the Percolator has helped other organizations across Massachusetts, as well as individuals and organizations in other states and countries, to learn how to start and sustain their own café. In 2017, the JF&CS Percolator Memory Café Network received a Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiving Legacy Award for its impact in helping to make memory cafés more widely available.
What Are Memory Cafés?
Memory cafés, also called Alzheimer’s cafés, are welcoming social gatherings for people living with dementia and their family members, friends, and professional caregivers. Dr. Bere Miesen started the first café in Holland in 1997, and since then they have spread as a social movement throughout many countries. Cafés meet in many types of locations, such as libraries, community centers, restaurants, and houses of worship. Cafés should fit the interests, needs, language, and culture of their local community, so each café is unique. Their main purpose is to provide a welcoming, stigma-free social setting where people living with dementia and their care partners can meet others and enjoy time together. Cafés aim to decrease the social isolation that often accompanies dementia.
Join the Percolator Email List
To join the JF&CS Memory Café Percolator email list and receive information about our quarterly meetings, please fill out this form. Note that our meetings take place in Waltham, MA and via Skype/conference call.
Memory Café Resource Links
Memory Café PSA - Spanish
Memory Café Toolkit and Virtual/Hybrid Toolkit Supplement in English and in Spanish
A step-by-step guide to starting and sustaining a memory café.
Memory Café Guide to Leadership and Other Meaningful Roles for People Living with Dementia
The Percolator and Dementia Action Alliance collaborated to create this guide to help memory café coordinators to support their participants in taking on active, meaningful roles at the cafés.
Spanish webinar on starting a Spanish-speaking memory café
A 25-minute video explaining how to start and run a café, focusing on the experience of Aroma de Café, the first Spanish-speaking memory café in Massachusetts.
Webinar on IDD-Inclusive Memory Cafés
A 38-minute video about the lessons learned by nine memory cafés that partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services starting in 2016 to serve people with intellectual/developmental disabilities who are also living with dementia.
Webinar on starting a memory café network
A 30-minute video about how the JF&CS Percolator Network got started, its benefits, and how people in other states or regions can start their own memory café network.
Webinar: Creating and Sustaining Memory Cafés: Lessons from the Coast and the Heartland
A 60-minute video produced by Dementia Friendly America about best practices and structures for helping memory cafés to spread, from Massachusetts and Wisconsin.
Webinar: The Power of Social Connection: Memory Cafés and Tête-à-Tête
A 60-minute video produced by the National Alzheimer's and Dementia Resource Center and Administration for Community Living about the memory café model and a memory café-inspired program for a Haitian Creole-speaking faith-based community in Florida.
TEDx Talk: Memory Cafés - Making Space for Dementia and Joy
Our own Beth Soltzberg spoke at TEDxWaltham about creating safe spaces for those with and without dementia to experience connection, creativity, and joy.
Resources for Virtual or Hybrid Memory Cafés
- Webinar: New Ways to Connect: Running a Virtual or Hybrid Memory Café
A 33-minute webinar sponsored by Massachusetts Councils on Aging that describes the steps for running a virtual, hybrid or outdoor memory café. See the slides from the webinar.
- Webinar: A Whole New (Virtual) World: Creating Connections with Online Dementia-Friendly Programs
A 38-minute webinar produced by Dementia Friendly Washington that discusses how memory cafés are transitioning to or starting up as virtual programs. See the slides from the webinar.
Archive of Percolator Quarterly Idea Exchanges
Percolator meetings are held quarterly in Waltham, Massachusetts and by Zoom/conference call. We began recording the meetings in June 2019.
- June 2019 Meeting: West County Memory Café of Shelburne Falls; supporting guests with Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) at a memory café
- September 2019 Meeting: South Shore Conservatory Memory Cafés; results of Percolator survey on how cafés respond to death and disease progression
- December 2019 Meeting: Burlington’s Memory Café; results of Percolator survey on how cafés create a sense of community and belonging
- March 2020 Meeting: Literacy-based Café programming; Brookline’s Memory Connections Café & Camp Memory Connections; Short brainstorm about the response to COVID-19
- COVID-19 Response Meeting (3/24/20): How memory cafés are responding to the coronavirus. See the slides from the meeting.
- COVID-19 Response Meeting (4/28/20): Idea exchange about virtual memory cafés. See the slides from the meeting.
- June 2020 Meeting (6/10/20): Virtual JF&CS Memory Café; A panel of teaching artists spoke about their transition to facilitating virtual cafés. See the slides from the meeting.
- September 2020 Meeting (9/10/20): Five memory cafés in the U.S. and Brazil adapt to COVID-19 through virtual or outdoor programming. See the slides from the meeting.
- December 2020 Meeting (12/9/20): Virtual 5th Street Café and Activities for People Living at Home with Dementia; TimeSlips resource update; Percolator survey on cafés’ adaptations to pandemic. See the slides from the meeting.
- March 2021 Meeting (3/11/21): Metrowest Memory Café Provider Coalition; Memories International; Percolator survey on how cafés plan to operate in 2021. See the slides from the meeting.
- June 2021 Idea Exchange (6/9/21): Boston Memory Cafes for Black/African American guests, and Spanish-speaking guests; Elderwise exploration of the heart of memory cafes. See the slides from the meeting.
- September 2021 Idea Exchange (9/9/21): Library Memory Project's Hybrid Cafe; Results from the Percolator survey of how we are providing cafes now. See the slides from the meeting.
- December 2021 Idea Exchange (12/8/21): With Dementia Action Alliance, discussion of meaningful roles that people living with dementia can take to help shape and lead memory cafes. See the slides from the meeting.
- March 2022 Idea Exchange (3/10/22): Simultaneous and sequential hybrid café presentations (serving guests both in person and virtually), and discussion of next steps for the Percolator. See the slides from the meeting.
- June 2022 Idea Exchange (6/8/22): Waukesha Public Library Memory Café and structured brainstorming on outreach and attendance; Harmony Café on designing activities that work for all ability levels. See the slides and handout from the meeting.
- September 2022 Idea Exchange (9/8/22): Ideas for making your cafe welcoming for LGBTQIA+ participants, and participants with a trauma background. See the slides from the meeting.
- December 2022 Idea Exchange (12/14/22): “History and Hope: The Origins of Memory Cafés & Thoughts about the Future,” and the Memory Café at the Denver Public Library. See the slides from the meeting.
- March 2023 Idea Exchange (3/9/23): Lorenzo’s House support for people with younger onset dementia, and Café Connection of NJ on rebuilding after loss. See the slides from the meeting. Here is the trailer to the Lorenzo’s House short film that was shown during the meeting.