Anne and Geoff have lived in Melbourne CBD for 20 years and have always loved the atmosphere and buzz of the city. Eating out and going for coffee to their favourite places is just part of daily life and something they love doing, regardless of Geoff’s dementia.
Geoff was diagnosed with Frontal Temporal Dementia and even though the disease is progressing, he continues to enjoy going out for a coffee. Geoff’s type of dementia necessitated a need for familiarity of place and routine. He likes to sit in the same place and order the same thing each time, which has never been an issue at the local café where Geoff and Anne became regulars. The café staff made simple changes to the way they provided their service to Geoff, like greeting him with a welcoming and friendly attitude every time he visited. The staff got to know Geoff by name and always acknowledged him on arrival, they accepted that sometimes he needed more time to handle money and displayed patience and respect when talking with Geoff.
Geoff has always been a sociable person and so continuing to do something he has always enjoyed, such as a going out for a coffee, makes him feel like his old self. As a person living with dementia, Geoff still has feelings and opinions and can enjoy familiar activities, regardless of his dementia. Geoff just needed a bit more help and assistance to continue to live life well. A simple activity, like visiting a regular café and ordering a coffee and being treated with respect, has helped maintain his dignity and contributed significantly to his quality of life.
Geoff now lives in full time residential care but ‘going out for a coffee’ remains an important and familiar social outing. One of his favourite cafes is by the water’s edge, where he enjoys watching the colour and movement of families, kite flying, people exercising with their dogs, as well as boats coming and going. Geoff and Anne visit this spot most Sundays. It is not too noisy and there is never any pressure to leave. It gives Geoff the chance to continue engaging in community life.
This article features in Alzheimer’s Australia’s First Steps to a Dementia-Friendly Australia booklet.
My parents whom both lived with Alzheimer's were regular customers of a cafe. When they got to the stage they were unable to understand the menu the staff would bring drinks and food to them that they usually ordered. As their journey progressed, when they arrived they would just brink there drink to them as they were sitting down and then bring them their food. If they forgot to pay the staff would ring me and I could pay at a later date. As their journey progressed even further and they had trouble using cutlery the staff would make their meal into finger so there was no embarrassment to Mum and Dad not knowing what to do with the cutlery. They loved going to this cafe and went most days for lunch. The staff were wonderful. This cafe was in Alice Springs. It would be my greatest wish to be able to provide training for all service providers in dementia care to allow a meaningful outing for all concerned. Wendy
My Mum and Dad whom both lived with Alzheimer's visited a cafe and restaurant on very regular occasions and the staff would ask them what they wanted and if the couldn't make up their minds they would suggest their usual orders and then serve them. If they forgot to pay they would ring me and then I could go and pay their bill at a later date. As their journey progressed when they arrived they would just put their preferred drinks down for them and then bring the meals that they loved and chatted to them and treated them with the utmost dignity. Towards the end they would make their meal into finger food as using cutlery was difficult. This was so special to them and us (the family) knowing they were still enjoying the things in life they loved. In the perfect world all service providers would benefit from some training to help them understand people living with dementi