Promoting Social Engagement in Spanish-Speaking Older Adults through Memory Cafes

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As the population ages, the number of individuals with cognitive impairments is projected to increase over the next few years. Studies have shown that feelings of loneliness and social isolation are linked to cognitive decline in older adults (Shankar et al., 2013). Memory Cafes can, however, enable those who suffer from mild cognitive impairments and their caregivers to take part in gatherings in a positive social environment. At Lehigh Valley Health Network, the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program holds four Memory Cafes for the community-dwelling older adults, which most sessions are facilitated by Community Health Workers (CHWs). Three of the 4 Memory Cafes target Spanish-speaking elders in community settings, while the fourth Memory Café targets English-speaking residents at a continuing care retirement community. Investigation through case studies will explore the facilitating factors and outcomes of Memory Café participation in Spanish-speaking elders and caregivers. Participation of Spanish-speaking elders in Memory Cafes have particularly shown great success, and participants’ responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Participants and caregivers have been highly engaged in activities and discussions at each Memory Café session. Approximately 10-20 elders and their caregivers have participated in each monthly Memory Café, with participants returning to subsequent sessions. Successful Memory Cafes in Spanish-speaking older adults may be explained by CHW’s ability to connect with participants through similar language and cultural backgrounds.


Department of Family Medicine, Department of Family Medicine Faculty, Department of Population Health

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