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Portugal now has a network of 13 Memory Cafés

Friday 17 February 2017

In Portugal, the Memory Café Network is an initiative of Alzheimer Portugal and the company Sonae Sierra within the scope of its sustainability policies. It is supported by several institutional partners such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Montepio Foundation and the Institute of Health Sciences of the Catholic University of Portugal.

The Portuguese model is inspired by the English Memory Café concept and experience, because it is very widespread there and was identified many years ago as a well-suited activity for people with dementia and their caregivers.

The first two Portuguese Memory Cafes were opened in April 2013. In order to develop this initiative geographically, several local partners have joined the network, such as municipalities, third sector organisations, and companies from the business sector, who provide the necessary human resources, financial and logistical support for the sessions.

Alzheimer Portugal has also recruited and trained 322 volunteers who have dedicated 7,888 hours to this project so far. This spirit of partnership and community commitment is one of the main factors to which Alzheimer Portugal attributes the success of this project.

In Portugal, Memory Cafés are helping to reduce social isolation and improving quality of life for many people with memory problems or dementia, as well as for their respective family members and caregivers. The Cafés also have a role in raising awareness about dementia, reducing the stigma that is still too prevalent in the country.

Today, there are 13 Memory Cafés in Portugal. From the launch of the project in 2013 until the end of 2016, 290 sessions have been held and the Portuguese Memory Cafés have so far included 1,586 participants and a total of 5,095 appearances, most of these from family and caregivers of people with dementia. In 2017, Alzheimer Portugal plans to continue to expand this project to other areas.

Another current objective is to conclude a research study about the impact that attending Memory Café sessions has on caregivers and volunteers’ lives. The hope is that the results of this study will contribute to reinforcing and spreading this initiative in Portugal and other European countries. 

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