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Alzheimer's Cafe provides safe, social spot for patients


David Jones' memory deteriorates with his disease, the minister and musician has forgotten a lot of lyrics and chords but his wife Daphne guides him through lapses.

"That's okay you got it, that's it, I love you."

And this is a very forgiving audience.

Daphne says he has Alzheimers, as do many customers at this Alzheimer's Cafe.

Dementia can socially isolate families. Jeanne Ballard would probably have stayed home in pajamas had her husband Bob not convinced her and dressed her to go out.

The Alzheimer's Caf concept began in Europe and is now taking off in western Washington.

 A place for families to feel normal again with others, to laugh, sing, eat

"We come here once a month oh I did not know that so that people living with dementia come chance to hang out and socialize."

Restaurants like Tutta Bella in Columbia City, make space, simplify their menu and provide customers comfort.

Patrons receive name tags.

"Bob says faces she'll recognize but names she can't get the names."

No one judges occasional outbursts or forgotten boundaries.

Nora Gibson says another person that has been coming to our cafes occasionally reaches over and takes a bite off of somebody else's plate.

A welcoming atmosphere breaks down perceived barriers for couples like Chuck and Dewey Woodland who've been married 56 years.

"Chuck says I think it's harder on Dewey than it is on me."

Daphne Jones has become her husband's caregiver and says he'd struggle ordering in a restaurant without her.

But when this pizzeria converts into an Alzheimer's Cafe, he shines. And he sings. And there's one thing his wife won't let him forget.

"That he's completely loved by God and by me and his family and friends, I want him to always remember that he's loved."

Several local restaurants are hosting Alzheimer's Cafe's at no cost other than the meal.