How To Start A Memory Cafe

How to Start a Memory Cafe

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If you’re reading this, you know the value Memory Cafes hold for individuals living with Dementia, whether it’s the Alzheimer’s type or any of the others. You also know the value Memory Cafe outings hold for those acting in a caregiver role, enabling a shared experience in a Dementia-friendly setting – but how to start a Memory Cafe is another matter.

What you may not know though, is how to start your own Memory Cafe. While there are many hundreds listed here in, there may not be one conveniently located in your specific region. It takes some effort to start a Memory Cafe from scratch, but the benefits far outweigh the time invested.

How to Start a Memory Cafe

Memory Cafe Directory encounters all types of Memory Cafes in the course of maintaining this National Directory. We also see how many start their Memory Cafes, since many of the listings are the “Coming Soon” variety.

To help you get started in creating your own Memory Cafe, we are sharing the resources we’ve found so far. Be sure to check back from time to time, as we will use this as the basis for building on what we know today. More information = more value.

Why Start Your Own Memory Cafe?

From Amazon

As indicated above, you may not have a convenient Memory Cafe in your small town. Even in large cities, your nearest location may be completely across your metropolitan area and a burden to make the trip. Establishing one locally will of course benefit you and many others.

But you may find your local, easy-to-visit Memory Cafe is simply too popular. That’s a good thing, because many are benefitting. However, you know very well that too much stimulus can be a bad thing. Expansion may be the right strategy. If so, starting your own Memory Cafe is your mission!

Memory Cafe Startup Guides

From Amazon

Compiled here are our favorite Memory Cafe Startup Guides.  Each one provides different perspectives, allowing you to apply those techniques that are right for you. We’ll add more information as we find quality materials, but this will get you started!

One additional piece of advice before we get started: you have a nearly unlimited source of materials, right here in Memory Cafe Directory. Reach out to any one of the hundreds of Memory Cafes listed and ask for advice on any aspect of the startup process that is causing you a challenge. You’ll find many caring people who would love to help you through a rough patch as you get your own Memory Cafe off the ground. Developing a relationship with someone who can provide support as a Mentor is a great way to start – and evolve.

If you get some excellent advice, we’d love to have you share it with us! We’ll add it to the resource list to help others along the path you’re traveling.

As you can see below, we show the various Startup Guides in alphabetical order. THIS IS NOT A RANKED LIST! Each one is powerful, but each has its own perspectives. We simply list them alphabetically. You are welcome (and encouraged!) to download each one and apply the topics that relate the best to your situation. More heads are better than one, right?

You’ll see the name of the organization, a summary of the guide and its unique traits, along with a link to the organization’s web site or to the guide directly.

By providing you with this collection of information, we believe it is a better way to help you get started – by helping you obtain the best information that is right FOR YOU!

Alzheimer’s Speaks

Alzheimers Speaks Lori La BeyLori La Bey is a trusted advisor to our Memory Cafe Directory. Through her work to teach and share, she has been called the “Oprah of Alzheimer’s.”

Through her Alzheimer’s Speaks web site, she specializes in the areas of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, caregiving, ageism, ethics, healthcare delivery systems, and senior housing. See her Memory Cafe Toolkit for a wide variety of general resources from individuals and organizations in both the U.S. and the U.K.!

Dementia Partnerships

Dementia PartnershipsAs a consultancy based in the U.K., Knowledge and Innovation Partnerships Ltd. is devoted to improving health care. Dementia Partnerships is the portal they use to share their knowledge and experience to help improve services and promote living well with dementia.

Their Guide to Setting Up a Memory Cafe is less a “step-by-step cookbook” and more of an in-depth text book. Although not as lengthy as the text books we remember, their Guide contains 11 sections, spanning 23 pages. Sections cover the who is, the why it’s important, the delivery, and the best practices. They even provide a sample survey you can use once you’re up and running to make sure you’re addressing your participants’ needs. The extensive collection of sample spreadsheet formats for planning costs, projecting cash flows, and tracking budgets make this a very comprehensive resource.

Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging (MCOA)
Jewish Family and Children’s Services (Boston)

Don’t pass by this one, just because you don’t live in Massachusetts! Funded by MCOA, and produced by JF&CS, the Massachusetts Memory Cafe Toolkit provides a deeply professional perspective, valuable to anyone – in any locale.

Available in Spanish!

This free guide is also available in Spanish, along with a 25-minute webinar (also in Spanish) about starting a Memory Cafe. The video features Massachusetts’ first Spanish-speaking Memory Cafe!

The 20-minute video shown below is in Spanish. It explains the benefits and provides a step-by-step guide to starting a Memory Cafe for Spanish-speaking individuals living with dementia, and their care partners. The Latino and Hispanic community has a disproportionately high risk of developing dementia, and the Memory Cafe model can be very helpful.

Collaborating on this project with The Percolator Memory Cafe Network was Leonor Buitrago of the Alzheimer’s Association MA/NH Chapter, Ana Karchmer of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Martha Velez and Angie Garcia of the Lawrence Council on Aging.

The extensive collection of downloadable forms are the heart and soul of this guide. Just a few of the forms cover areas such as planning worksheets, sample flyers, volunteer tips, guest artist suggestions, outreach ideas, and even a suggested list of items needed to get your Memory Cafe started. Many more downloadable forms are offered in the overall guide.

Our Beliefs

Our passion lies squarely for helping caregivers who support those living with cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s and any of the dementias.


To wrap up, we have a few questions for you:

  • Which of the Memory Cafe Startup Guides shown above did you find to be most valuable to you? Tell us why so we can continue to refine our review of each one. The better we can tell the story about each guide, the more people we can assist. Drop us a note, or better yet, post your comment below.
  • Is there another Memory Cafe Startup Guide you found useful? Let us know and we’ll look at adding it to our collection.
  • Are you a professional who has created a Memory Cafe Startup Guide? Please get in touch if you would like us to add it to our listing.
  • Is your Memory Cafe listed? If not, let us know and we’ll get it published on Memory Cafe Directory right away.

And don’t forget, once you get your own Memory Cafe started, be sure to come back to Memory Cafe Directory, tell us about your Memory Cafe, and we’ll get it listed for everyone to see!

The more, the merrier, right?

More Reading

It’s great that you’re learning about starting your own Memory Cafe. If you haven’t read about the basics first, you might want to start here, with our “What is a Memory Cafe?” article.

Next, you might want to look into some techniques for promoting your Memory Cafe.

Watch for more articles about Memory Cafes and how to make them the best they can be!

Become a Contributor!

Write for Memory Cafe DirectoryDo you want to be a Memory Cafe Directory contributor? If you have helpful information to share with our community, read about the guidelines, then get in touch to discuss what you have to offer.

Thank you.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Amy Butler Feb 10, 2020, 8:48 am

    Interested in starting a memory cafe…