People with memory loss, their family and friends, and all who support a dementia-friendly community are invited to attend a fun social gathering called “Rock the House.” Organized by local business owners, organizations and neighbors, the event takes place from 3 – 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 27 at Shadowland in the West Seattle Junction.
Along with a chance to enjoy food, drinks and good company, the event features MC Brent Amaker (of Brent Amaker and The Rodeo) and live music by Jay Cates (of The Bend). Happy hour menu will be available. Event is free other than the cost of menu items ordered.
“I’m excited about this because I love to get people together, especially people in different situations,” states Frances Smersh, who helped plan the event. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to engage people and have a great time. And music is always good for the heart and the soul!”
Frances was diagnosed with dementia in 2015 at the age of 48. Since then, she and her husband John, the owners of Click! Design That Fits, have openly shared her diagnosis with the West Seattle community.
“It was important for me to share the news about my diagnosis,” states Frances, “because I knew I couldn’t hide from it, and I don’t think it does anyone any good to try to hide. Remaining engaged in the community is important to me personally, and it seems to be one of the best things for people dealing with memory loss.”
With over 100,000 Washingtonians, and over 5 million Americans, living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, Frances is certainly not alone. However, it can be easy for people with dementia to feel socially isolated. Although they remain vital members of the community, social stigma and other barriers can prevent them from staying involved and engaged.
In this context, a local movement called Momentia is empowering people with memory loss and their loved ones to stay connected and active in their communities. People and organizations are coming together to produce “dementia-friendly” opportunities in popular public spaces – like walking groups at Woodland Park Zoo, art gallery tours at the Frye Art Museum, and service projects at the Cherry Street Food Bank. (Learn more at www.momentiaseattle.org)
“For too long, a dementia diagnosis has meant fear, shame and isolation,” states Marigrace Becker, Program Manager for Community Education and Impact at the UW Medicine Memory & Brain Wellness Center. “People with memory loss and their loved ones deserve to stay engaged in their communities – and by working together, we can make that happen.”
Here in West Seattle, Momentia is taking off. In the Fall, a group of organizations and neighbors involved in the Momentia movement hosted a community meeting for people with memory loss and their loved ones to develop their own dementia-friendly programs, making use of favorite West Seattle venues.
As a result, several new programs are in the works. In the new year, Providence Mt St Vincent began opening up their drum circle to others living with dementia in the wider West Seattle community. In March and April, Seattle Parks and Recreation, the Senior Center of West Seattle, and others are offering a 4-week creative arts and storytelling workshop for people with dementia and their loved ones.
And now, the Momentia group of West Seattle is proud to announce “Rock the House.” Whether you have dementia, love someone with dementia, or want to meet others who support a dementia-friendly community, you are invited to attend.