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Chislehurst cafe where dementia sufferers are served up tea and sympathy

Left to right: Sube Banergee, Ruth Bennett Dep Mayor of Bromley, and Maureen Falloon

Left to right: Sube Banergee, Ruth Bennett Dep Mayor of Bromley, and Maureen Falloon

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Dementia sufferers can get support from professionals at a new café, a concept pioneered in the Netherlands.

The first of its kind in Bromley, The Garden Room, at Chislehurst Active Age Centre, was opened on Monday by Professor Sube Banerjee, from King’s College Hospital.

It will help some of the 4,000 people who suffer from the condition in Bromley.

The centre’s director, Maureen Falloon, said the café would work on health, social and educational principles as developed by clinical psychologist Dr Bere Miesen, who opened the first Alzheimer’s café in the Netherlands in 1997.

He found that the relaxed atmosphere of a café gave dementia sufferers a chance to talk freely about often-taboo subjects with peers and their families.

He claimed there was “little recognition” that the person with dementia and those close to them “are going through a grieving process”.

Mrs Falloon said: “The café is a place where they can get peer support and talk about what problems they are facing. Dementia is an awful disease, but people often only see the disease and not the person. This café will have a more person-centred approach where people can network, do activities and listen to music.

“There is still a lot of stigma attached to it, which is why it was great when the author Terry Pratchett came out and talked about it. It is the most awful disease and people need to understand what a devastating impact it has on people and their families.”

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, affecting about 465,000 people in the UK. The term dementia is used to describe the symptoms that occur when the brain is affected by specific diseases and conditions, including memory loss and confusion. It affects one in 14 people over the age of 65 and one in six over the age of 80.

The café will seat between 30 and 40 people on Tuesday afternoons from 2pm to 4pm at The Chislehurst Active Age Centre, in High Street, Chislehurst. For more information, contact 020 8315 1850 or email mfaulkner@acbromley.org.uk.

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