FARMINGTON – A new cafe is opening next month, but instead of serving food, it is designed as a gathering and supportive place for people with dementia and their caregivers.
The Hummingbird Memory Cafe will host its grand opening Feb. 12 in Farmington and will be the first memory cafe for northwestern New Mexico and Southwest Colorado. Memory cafes are designed to be a relaxing meeting place for people with dementia or memory loss and their caregivers to gather and make connections in similar situations.
“It’s low-key, and it’s all about engaging,” said Nicolette Ketchum, founder of the Hummingbird Memory Cafe. The cafe will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center annex building.
This engagement is key, Ketchum said. While an optional art activity is provided each meeting, it’s more about bringing out creativity in each of the participants, she said. Care partners sit next to their family member with dementia and everyone is engaged.
“There’s no right or wrong with the activities we do at the memory cafe,” Ketchum said.
Ketchum, who is a physician assistant focused on family care, noticed a lot of family members and individuals with dementia were struggling with a comprehensive approach to medical support. She decided to take a break from family practice to explore the concept of memory cafes last summer.
During her research, Ketchum realized one of the first memory cafes was founded in Santa Fe by Dr. Jytte Lokvig, a dementia and Alzheimer’s specialist. She visited the cafe in December 2019 and said she fell in love with the warm and supportive environment she found there.
The idea of memory cafes has rapidly spread to other states, with some like Wisconsin taking strongly to the concept with about 77 cafes, according to Lokvig’s catalog. Yet, New Mexico has only three – two in Santa Fe and one in Albuquerque. Ketchum’s Hummingbird Memory Cafe would be the fourth addition, the first outside of the larger metropolitan areas of the state, and the first in the Four Corners. Colorado has three cafes, two in Denver and one in Wheat Ridge, a suburb of the city.
Ketchum said the Hummingbird Memory Cafe is one aspect of the vision she has to make Farmington and the Four Corners more inclusive and supportive of the needs of people with dementia and their caregivers. It seems the memory cafe has touched on something the community has needed.
“It’s amazing how many people have said to me, ‘I wish this had been around when I was taking care of a family member with dementia,’” Ketchum said.
In the past few months, volunteers spearheading the cafe have grown from two people to about 15 people representing different areas of the community. She even recently met with interested people from Bloomfield about possibly opening a second location for their community.
While reservations are not necessary, anyone with questions is encouraged to contact the Hummingbird Memory Cafe through its Facebook page.
“We’re present in the moment at the cafe, and everyone gets to make choices about what they’re doing,” Ketchum said. “And that’s a big deal because often people will speak for people with dementia.”