A local initiative is providing those with dementia and their caregivers a comfortable environment in the community.

The Memory Cafe through Dementia Friendly Communities and the Brenda Strafford Foundation gives residents an opportunity to get out and socialize with those in similar situations.

Jennifer Mallamo, DFC coordinator for Okotoks, says they're hoping to change perceptions about the disease.

"The project is aimed at reducing the stigma of dementia and supporting people to stay in the community longer so this is a means of encouraging both of those," she explains. "Sometimes people just have this thinking about dementia that it's something they don't want to talk about or don't want to address and there's all kinds of people out there struggling without being connected with others who are in the same boat."

Mallamo says it's great seeing how the program has already made a positive impact.

"We've had the same couple come since the cafe's started and they're just thrilled they can be supported by people who are in a similar situation. We've had the wife of a person with dementia and she's the one providing care and just feeling really disconnected and really overwhelmed. We were able to chat with her, provide her with some resources, and just help her to feel like she's not alone."

Memory Cafe is a free event and takes place at the Okotoks Seniors Club the first Wednesday of each month from 1- 2:30 p.m.

Those looking for more information can contact Mallamo at (403) 995-6809.

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