Aug 14, 2023

Dementia-friendly LGBTIQ+ café offers safe space for socialisation

Pride1
Victorian Pride Centre CEO, Justine Dalla Riva; Dementia Australia’s Belinda Nixon; Mithrani De Abrew Mahadeva; Dementia Advocate Anne Tudor; and Lifeview CEO, Samantha Jewell. [Source: Natalie Edge]

An Australia-first specialist pop-up café will make a new safe space for people from LGBTIQ+ communities living with dementia and their carers to socialise over a coffee in Victoria’s St Kilda area. 

Dementia Australia, Lifeview, and Victorian Pride Centre have collaborated together to launch the Memory Lane Café at the Victorian Pride Centre to allow participants an opportunity to socialise without stigma while enjoying refreshments, snacks and entertainment.

Mithrani De Abrew Mahadeva is an artist in her early 70s who identifies as non-binary and lives with a Lewy body disease and Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis. Mithrani attended the café’s launch event last week and told The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) she had a great time, meeting some like-minded folks who shared similar passions for equality, music, dance, art and community. 

“I kept thinking this is such a safe and happy place,” she said. 

Mithrani also told SMH she loved the sandwiches, which were bite-sized and soft to eat –  made especially for people with dementia who can experience dysphagia or difficulty swallowing food.

Research highlights the alarming rate of social isolation and stigma experienced by older people living with dementia. This was emphasised by Dementia Australia National Patron, Ita Buttrose, who said for many older people living with dementia, attending traditional social functions can be challenging. 

“[The café] will provide a welcoming, relaxing and fun venue for people living with dementia and their carers to meet, interact and foster meaningful connections within the community,” she said.

Justine Dalla Riva, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Victorian Pride Centre said it was proud to help establish the café to tackle barriers LGBTIQ+ older people face when accessing mainstream spaces and to curb social isolation for those living with dementia in LGBTIQ+ communities.

“As Australia’s first purpose-built centre for LGBTIQ+ people, we understand the power of creating spaces where people can share their lived experience and build connections in a welcoming and inclusive environment,” she said. 

Dementia Advocate and 2021 Victorian of the Year, Anne Tudor said older people in our LGBTIQ+ community impacted by dementia will be better off for the new space.

She said it will “provide much comfort for members of our community, young and old, to know the café will be supported by kindred spirits at our Pride Centre.”

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Mithrani De Abrew Mahadeva with Dementia Advocate and 2021 Victorian of the Year, Anne Tudor. [Source: Natalie Edge]

Lifeview CEO, Samantha Jewell, also shared her enthusiasm for the initiative.

“Establishing a Memory Lane Café at the Pride Centre has long been a vision for us, especially as a Founding Major Partner of Pride Centre and Rainbow Tick accredited provider of residential aged care,” she said.

“We are excited to see this vision come to life, and we welcome people living with dementia and their support persons to join us on this journey.”

Memory cafes are becoming popular across Australia and the world, as important places for older people with dementia to receive support and socialise.

The Memory Lane Café – Victorian Pride Centre will begin operations in September and bookings are essential. 

To secure a lunch spot, call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or email vic.memorylanecafe@dementia.org.au to register your interest in attending.

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