2019 Caregiver Conference – Redefining Memory Loss

2019 Memory Cafe of the Red River Valley Caregiver Conference


Redefining Memory Loss: Living Well Throughout this Journey

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The Memory Cafe of the Red River Valley is a non-profit with a mission to help those affected by memory loss through education, the creative arts and socialization.

The Memory Cafe was founded by Deb Kaul and Beth Ustanko in Fargo, North Dakota just a couple years ago and has grown substantially in participation and attendance.

“My co-founder, Beth Ustanko and I both had parents who lived with dementia. Her father had Parkinson’s dementia, my father had Lewy Body dementia, and my mother lived with Alzheimer’s disease. We both noticed and felt the tremendous impact of the stigma, isolation, embarrassment, and loneliness our parents experienced as their health declined and we wanted to do whatever we could to lessen those impacts for others living with dementia and their family members,” said Kaul.

Their hope for the Memory Cafe of the Red River Valley is to expand the level of awareness of the cafe to include all individuals, medical providers, and community members in order to give every person with early to moderate memory loss the opportunity to become involved. They are working diligently to redefine memory loss through education, community engagement, community service, and the create arts to lessen the stigma, lessen the loneliness, anxiety, and hopelessness so often associated with a diagnosis of dementia.

2019 Caregiver Conference 

Jayne Clairmont Speaking at Conference

The 2019 Caregiver Conference was the first of its kind for the Fargo-Moorhead area. The goal of the conference was to create an opportunity for caregivers to connect with each other and receive rich education, inspiration and encouragement as well as to create awareness of the valuable resources available for caregivers in their local area. Most importantly the conference hoped to create awareness for the Memory Cafe of the Red River Valley so everyone living with memory loss can be involved if they wish.

Jayne Clairmont, Owner and CEO of English Rose Suites and b♦home Home Care, was the keynote speaker for the Memory Cafe’s First Annual Caregiver Conference on June 6th. The event was held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fargo, North Dakota.

Clairmont spoke on creating and maintaining rich relationships, understanding what will truly support well-being, and diving deeper to gain a clear understanding with care settings and creating excellence.

“My hope is that I showed the audience that those affected by memory loss can still live happy, purposeful and joy-filled lives. Teaching them it’s truly about figuring out who the individual is and meeting them where they are at while giving them great purpose,” said Clairmont.

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Click here  to see Jayne’s interview with Fargo news station, WDAY.

With over 250 people in attendance, the inaugural conference proved to be a success. Kaul said they received many wonderful comments regarding the content and style of her presentation and most importantly how she immediately connected with the audience in such a powerful and impactful way.

“We are so thankful for her expertise, kindness, and willingness to share her passionate belief that every person living with dementia should be treated with utmost respect and dignity, and be supported to live with an engaged, meaningful, purpose-filled life,” said Kaul.

Memory Cafes – What Are They?

The “memory cafe” is not the first of its kind, but a first for the Fargo-Moorhead area. Memory Cafes are starting to pop up in more communities and are a great resource for persons with dementia, their care partners and families.

According to memorycafedirectory.com, a memory cafe is a safe, comfortable and welcoming space for individuals living with dementia, their caregivers/care partners and their loved ones to socialize, listen to music, play games, and enjoy other appropriate activities. They provide mutual support and as a resource for information and education. Individual memory cafes may focus on different aspects for a unique experience. Some may be more activities-based while others may focus more on education.

History – Where they Started

The “memory cafe” concept originated in the Netherlands in the late 1990’s when a Dutch psychiatrist introduced the concept as a way to break through the stigma associated with various forms of dementia. The concept quickly spread throughout Europe, Australia and eventually the United States. Today in the United States, hundreds of memory cafes take place on a regular basis.

Find a memory cafe in your area today.