Libraries Do That? Introducing the Dementia Resource Center

August 28, 2019

When I lived in New York City I would, on occasion, find myself dining with folks not usually in my social circle. These people would ask what I did for a living and they could be a bit surprised when I said I was a librarian. “A librarian? Are there still libraries anymore?” they’d joke. “Didn’t ebooks get rid of them?” Poor souls. Little did they know that saying that kind of thing to a librarian means you’re cruising for a bruising two-hour explanation of all the different ways in which a library serves its community above and beyond print materials (which, quite frankly, aren’t going anywhere). After preventing the person from adequately finishing their salad, soup, or main course, they would eventually have to admit ignorance just to keep the crazy librarian lady next to them quiet.

Even so, the perception continues to exist that all we ever do is circulate books. That’s a cute notion. Very 1950s. But in 2019 it’s just not very practical. Libraries are constantly trying to find new ways to become invaluable to the public. Case in point, The Memory Cafés and the new Dementia Resource Center.

As seen in a recent press release, “People with dementia and their care partners are important stakeholders in the Evanston community. The Library offers them a dedicated program and resources to broaden their opportunities for fun and education.” What does that look like? Well, first we have our Memory Cafés, which began in September 2018, take place on the third Saturday of each month from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in the Falcon Room. Memory Cafés bring in art and service programs to provide enrichment activities for people living with dementia and build community and provide support for their care partners. The events are social, fun, and offer equalizing opportunities to engage in art, dance, or music, among other activities.

Because dementia can be such an isolating illness, the library then set out to secure new funding to expand our offerings for its patrons living with dementia and their care partners. That’s why we’ve also created the Dementia Resource Center. Housed next to the Falcon Room on the third floor of the Main Library, 1703 Orrington, in this collection patrons will find books on the subject of Alzheimer’s and dementia taken from the library’s collections. These books are marked with a purple dot to identify them and can be borrowed like other library books. New materials will be added regularly.

In addition, the Resource Center has take-home activity kits that can be checked out for a month at a time. These kits contain puzzles, games, and other mind and memory activities that encourage people on the different phases of the memory loss spectrum to interact with their care partners.  The library encourages feedback on how these activities work for those who borrow them. Presently, the activity kits are available only to Evanston residents.

It’s a far cry from just handing out books but that’s the library for ya. Trying new things all the time.


Dementia Resource Center Opens

Dementia can be an isolating illness, not only for those suffering from it but also for the care partners who help them on their journey. New funding has enabled the Evanston Public Library to expand its offerings for its patrons living with dementia and their care partners. The Library has opened its Dementia Resource Center thanks to a Reaching Across Illinois Libraries System (RAILS) partnership grant and funding from Age Options, a local nonprofit organization providing older adults and their care partners resources and service options.

The Dementia Resource Center is housed next to the Falcon Room on the third floor of the Main Library, 1703 Orrington. There, patrons will find books on the subject of Alzheimer’s and dementia taken from the library’s collections. These books are marked with a purple dot to identify them and can be borrowed like other library books. New materials will be added regularly.

In addition, the Resource Center has take-home activity kits that can be checked out for a month at a time. These kits contain puzzles, games, and other mind and memory activities that encourage people on the different phases of the memory loss spectrum to interact with their care partners.  The library encourages feedback on how these activities work for those who borrow them. Presently, the activity kits are available only to Evanston residents.

“These activity kits are made available for those on the memory loss spectrum and their care partners to help find activities they can do together,” says Jill Skwerski, the Library’s Engagement Services Manager. “These activities help promote access to tools they can use to help discover joy in their lives.”

The Dementia Resource Center serves the same population who attend the Library’s monthly Memory Cafés. The Memory Cafés, which began in September 2018, take place on the third Saturday of each month from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in the Falcon Room. Memory Cafés bring in art and service programs to provide enrichment activities for people living with dementia and build community and provide support for their care partners. The events are social, fun, and offer equalizing opportunities to engage in art, dance, or music, among other activities.

The next Memory Café on August 17 will be a poetry workshop. No registration is necessary.

People with dementia and their care partners are important stakeholders in the Evanston community. The Library offers them a dedicated program and resources to broaden their opportunities for fun and education.

 


For Those With Dementia: The Memory Café is Open

On the third Saturday of the month, beginning in September, the Evanston Public Library is bringing in art and service programs for a Memory Café to provide enrichment activities for people living with dementia and their care partners. The events are social, fun, and offer equalizing opportunities to engage in art, dance, or music, among other activities.

The Evanston Public Library joins a growing network of Memory Cafés to address an underserved population. The offered activities will empower and entertain people with dementia and their caregivers in a neutral setting where everyone succeeds. Memory Cafés are an important tool for people with dementia and their care partners to combat isolation and reclusiveness and to stay engaged and involved in their community.

The Memory Cafés take place on the third Saturday of the month from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in the Falcon Room of the Main Library, 1703 Orrington, Evanston. Participants also will have access to new resources and information about dementia and care opportunities.

UPCOMING EVENTS

On Saturday, September 15, the Institute for Therapy Through the Arts will present an interactive percussion event. The Institute for Therapy Through the Arts is an organization with centers in Evanston, Chicago, and Lake Forest, whose philosophy fosters the integration of mind and body to promote optimal health of the whole person.

On Saturday, October 20, the Hip Circle Empowerment Center will offer a belly-dancing session. The Hip Circle Empowerment Center is an Evanston-based bellydance and fitness studio that aims to make health and wellness accessible to all women.

On Saturday, November 17, the United in Faith Lutheran Church based on Chicago’s Northwest Side will bring its “New Life for Old Bags” program. Participants will roll used plastic bags to make sleeping mats for the homeless. The church works with Cornerstone Community Outreach in Uptown to distribute the bags.

On Saturday, December 15, the Art Institute of Chicago will present “Lifelong Learning Art Insights,” to offer a historical and enlightening experience for participants who may not be able to visit the Art Institute on their own.

The programs will continue each third Saturday of the month. Programs for 2019 will be announced when scheduled.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to improve themselves through the various forms of literacy. People with dementia and their care partners are important stakeholders in the Evanston community. The library offers them a dedicated program to broaden their opportunities for fun and education. No registration is necessary.

For more information, please contact Jill Skwerski, Community Engagement Librarian at jskwerski@cityofevanston.org or by calling 847-448-8664.