Memory Cafe Provides Sense of Community, Resources for Those Struggling With Alzheimer’s

The program is also meant to help the caregivers of those with the disease

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — More than 14,000 people are living with Alzheimer’s disease in North Dakota.

Now a church in Grand Forks is trying to help out not just those with the disease, but their caregivers as well.

Sue Fagerholt has a few titles under her belt including mother, wife and a few years ago she added a new one: caregiver.

Her husband has a late stage of Alzheimer’s, but she says it wasn’t an easy transition to make.

“It’s been quite a journey. He was a farmer, very, very active, loved to be with people, loved to be involved in things and Alzheimer’s took all that away from him,” Fagerholt said.

Fagerholt needed help with the emotional toll and learning more about the disease, which is why she started coming to a Memory Cafe at Calvary Lutheran Church in Grand Forks two years ago.

Mary Ann Devig is the one who started the program at the church three years ago.

“As a nurse, I was really noticing people didn’t understand the disease. I kind of took my ideas and mapped it out like the Netherlands have with their Memory Cafe with the educational component,” Devig said.

Devig brings in all kinds of experts on dementia and Alzheimer’s from neurologists and pharmacists to occupational therapists and social workers.

But aside from education, there’s another component of the program that keeps people coming back.

Some say one of the most important aspects of the cafe is that it shows people they aren’t alone.

“It’s always great to visit with other people who are going through the same situation that you’re in. I always share experiences and find out what works and doesn’t work,” Fagerholt said.

“It’s formed a community where people don’t feel like they’re so alone. They’re not alone on this journey that’s no fun for anybody to go through,” Devig said.

The Memory Café will continue to run 1–3:30 on the second Tuesday of each month through June.

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