A Day in the Life at The Alzheimer Cafe, St Finbarr's Hospital, Cork

In ‘The Cafe’, producer Emma Cawley records a day in the life at The Alzheimer Cafe at St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork

‘The Café’ will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Saturday 13th of February at 7am and is repeated at 10pm that evening.

 Following transmission, the programme will be available as a podcast at www.newstalk.com/documentaryonnewstalk 

On the last Friday of every month a group of people come together in a small room at St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork. It’s perhaps a rare occasion for these people to sit down, relax over a cup of tea, share some stories, have a laugh or unburden themselves. People young and old are sitting at tables covered in checkered cloths and set with china, chatting, drinking tea.  But what brings them all together might not be immediately obvious.....

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are a growing issue with today’s global ageing population. The goal of the Alzheimer Café is to provide a place for people to socialize with others who understand the challenges they’re facing.

In order to meet that need, the idea of the Alzheimer Cafe was developed in the Netherlands in 1997, and since then cafes have spread throughout the world. Cafes are designed to be a safe and relaxed place where people with dementia, their families and health and social care professionals can come together to talk, share and learn.

St Finbarr’s Alzheimer Cafe in Cork provides a place to do all of these things, and where the focus is on living well and dealing positively with memory loss.

‘The Cafe’ charts a day in the life of St Finbarr’s Alzheimer Cafe.  Visitors to the cafe - those directly affected and carers - honestly share their experiences of memory loss. Staff at the hospital provide insight into the nature of memory loss, and also discuss the Irish research being done in the area of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  ‘The Cafe’ is testament to the dedication and love that endures in the face of one of life’s most challenging diseases.

‘The Café’ will be broadcast on Newstalk 106-108fm on Saturday 13th of February at 7am and is repeated at 10pm that evening.


JUDY WALL, Senior Clinical Psychologist at St Finbarr’s Hospital - And as one of our attenders, somebody with dementia said it’s important to have a sense of humour as well.  A sense of trying to keep a balance between humour fun but at the same time not denying or pushing the issue under the carpet either. Having a forum where people can be honest about it rather than having to hide away and keep it like something that’s a secret in the family.  

Prof WILLIAM MOLLOY, Geriatrician and professor of medicine at the Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation UCC. - When I first started working in Alzheimer’s people didn’t know what it was.  I remember when I went to Canada to work in geriatrics people didn’t know what a geriatrician did.  Now people get it.  I mean the number are staggering.  We’re gonna go from forty thousand to one hundred and twenty thousand by 2050 and the whole demographic is shifting. So that shift that’s occurred, even in my life span, it’s incredible, and the length that people are living longer. Sometimes we think that’s a bad thing, sometimes we think that’s a great drain on society, it’s a great drain on healthcare. But it’s a huge boon to society.... and how do we protect the services for those people? That’s what it’s all about…

‘MARY’ a patient attending with memory loss - Yes, I’m fifty.  So I am young.  It doesn’t matter to me here though, it’s not a problem for me here.  It’s a problem for me now in other areas in different groups, like that now if I’m getting groceries or in a queue or whatever I’m obvious then, it’s obvious to me then that I’m young to have this.  But I know it not unusual either.  I’m not the first fifty-year-old woman to be suffering from memory problems... For me it’s important that I make the best of what I have now.  That I can enjoy what I have, and come to the centre here, the treatment centre is just fantastic.