Local program provides social outlet for those impacted by memory loss
By Kris Rued-Clark
MARSHFIELD — Modeled after successful programs in other communities, Marshfield now offers a Memory Cafe, which provides a social gathering for those with memory loss and their partners and families. The Memory Cafe is offered to the public free of charge and is a joint project of Marshfield Area Respite Care Center (MARCC), a United Way Agency, and Stoney River Memory Care. Wesley United Methodist Church provides the location.
Sue Jansen and Marilyn Seidl-Kramer of MARCC and Tammy Schlagenhaft and Sarah Krenn of Stoney River work together to plan and conduct the monthly gatherings with both entities sharing the financial cost.
“We have anywhere from 16 to 30 people. Mostly we see couples, but two sisters have attended, and it’s open to any family members,” said Jansen.
The gatherings are held downstairs at Wesley United Methodist Church on the second Wednesday of each month and include a snack and light lunch.
“We have a different theme each month,” said Schlagenhaft, a life enrichment coordinator for Stoney River Memory Care.
Memory Cafe themes have included music, a Hawaiian party, and gardening.
“Last month we had an old-fashioned sing-along. The time before we did gardening and an art activity with Q-tip painting of trees. For the Hawaiian party, we had a tropical fruit tasting,” said Jansen.
The theme for July will be a polka picnic on Wednesday, July 8, at 10:30 a.m. at Wesley United Methodist Church. Andy Wanta will perform on his concertina.
Thirty people attended the June Memory Cafe, as Jean Roehrborn, a church organist for 62 years, led a sing-along.
“We’ve been pleased with the response, especially last month when we saw new families coming through. This is geared for families coping with memory loss who have loved ones still at home. It’s a social time for them to get out and reduce their isolation,” said Jansen.
A program assistant, Jansen began as a volunteer at MARCC in 1998. When asked what she finds most rewarding about her work, she said, “The people are fascinating — they have so many stories — and how much they appreciate one another.”
Schlagenhaft said, “The gift of socialization with others is amazing. To be together and have activities that bring out their personalities and engage them is truly a gift.” She hopes that participants will find a sense of belonging, to feel so welcomed that they would want to return again and again.
“For family members, especially couples, to share, be happy, enjoy being social with their significant others, and have a lunch, that’s why we’re doing this. It’s really a community project to reach out to folks to try to enjoy moments of happiness. There are still pleasant memories to be had,” said Jansen.
“There’s no need to make reservations. Just show up,” added Schlagenhaft.
The Memory Cafe is held the second Wednesday of every month from 10:30 a.m. until noon at Wesley United Methodist Church, 205 E. Third St., Marshfield.