A healthcare practitioner addressing an informal gathering under the Memory Café initiative in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai has launched a ‘Memory Cafe' for families of patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia as a support group that will meet on a monthly basis to share experiences, expertise and provide support for patients and caregivers.

The cafe has been launched by the Seniors’ Happiness Centre, an initiative of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

Relaxed setting

Once a month, healthcare practitioners from the centre will meet with caregivers and patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia at the centre’s Memory Cafe. Dr Salwa Al Suwaidi, geriatrician and director of the centre, said: “The Memory Café is an informal and relaxed setting and will encourage active participation and conversations. The initiative will help family members provide the best possible care for patients as well as help boost the morale of patients battling this disease. The aim is to provide emotional, educational, and social support for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.”

She added: “Often we find that as health professionals we also get valuable information from caregivers so the information exchange will be both ways. This kind of active learning, support and encouragement in a relaxed setting will benefit both patients and their caregivers.”

The Seniors’ Happiness Centre is the only centre of its kind for the elderly in the emirate, providing a host of in-patient and outpatient geriatric and rehabilitation services.

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Empowering families

Al Suwaidi said: “Caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is often very challenging and simple steps like discussing coping mechanisms, strategies and just being there for each other helps caregivers deal with the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis in caring for their loved ones.”

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias suffer from memory and cognitive deterioration, abnormal behaviour, aggressiveness, suspiciousness, insomnia and incontinence. The Memory Café provides an opportunity to discuss tips on how to deal with these issues.

Al Suwaidi added: “Support groups are particularly important for this disease because presently there is still no curative therapy available. Medications can only delay the progression of the illness. Therefore, coping strategies and behavioural therapies are important in dealing with this disease.”