Retirees' Association

Retirees Association of Queen's

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RAQ Members Making a Difference: Alzheimer Cafe in Kingston


My involvement with the Alzheimer Café began in 2015 when a group from St. James’ Anglican church in Kingston began to consider what role the church could play in supporting parishioners and the local community who were dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.  Following a Webinar on the topic and several rounds of discussion a member of the group suggested an “Alzheimer Café”.  The first such event was developed by a Dutch psychologist, Dr. Bere Miesen, in 1997 to create a social gathering that would support people with dementia and their carers.  These soon began to be duplicated in other countries around the world (

The mission statement for our outreach program is “…to provide a legitimate, structured support group for care partners, family and friends, and people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of memory loss.”  We advertise the event in the local community, inviting all those who wish to be more aware of or be educated about dementia issues.  The Café format involves music, a period for socializing, a speaker and lots of food throughout the two-hour event.  We begin with musical entertainment which usually includes a sing-along portion, some social time and then a 20-minute speaker, followed by an opportunity for questions.  Speakers have included experts in pharmacy, occupational therapy, the Alzheimer Society activities, care partners of and individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

 A Recent Alzheimer Cafe in Kingston

A Recent Alzheimer Café in Kingston 

We have a Steering Committee that meets before a Café and sets out our volunteer roles as greeters, servers, set-up and take down of equipment, food production, and putting up seasonal decorations.  My current role involves general co-ordination of the event, arranging for musical entertainment (a local group, musicians, choirs, etc.) and speakers, as well as advertising.  The first Café took place in March 2016 and the second in October of that year.  Based on positive feedback and a successful turnout, we have continued to organize these events.  Approximately five are now held each year—three in the first part of the year and following a summer break, two in the fall/winter period. 

Since my retirement from Queen’s University’s School of Nursing, I have been involved in a number of community activities, but the Alzheimer Café is a volunteer activity that I have found to be especially valuable for the community, one which is dealing with the growing issue of dementia.  On a personal level, it has also been a very rewarding activity and I have learned a lot about dementia and the ways in which I can help to support members of my community who deal with dementia on a daily basis. 

Cathie Perkin, RAQ member

For more information on participating in or helping with future   Alzheimer Cafés, RAQ members can contact Cathie Perkin directly at or at (613) 328-6033.