Dementia can be an isolating illness, not only for those suffering from it but also for the care partners who help them on their journey. New funding has enabled the Evanston Public Library to expand its offerings for its patrons living with dementia and their care partners. The Library has opened its Dementia Resource Center thanks to a Reaching Across Illinois Libraries System (RAILS) partnership grant and funding from Age Options, a local nonprofit organization providing older adults and their care partners resources and service options.
The Dementia Resource Center is housed next to the Falcon Room on the third floor of the Main Library, 1703 Orrington Avenue. There, patrons will find books on the subject of Alzheimer's and dementia taken from the library's collections. These books are marked with a purple dot to identify them and can be borrowed like other library books. New materials will be added regularly.
In addition, the Resource Center has take-home activity kits that can be checked out for a month at a time. These kits contain puzzles, games, and other mind and memory activities that encourage people on the different phases of the memory loss spectrum to interact with their care partners. The library encourages feedback on how these activities work for those who borrow them. Presently, the activity kits are available only to Evanston residents.
"These activity kits are made available for those on the memory loss spectrum and their care partners to help find activities they can do together," says Jill Skwerski, the Library's Engagement Services Manager. "These activities help promote access to tools they can use to help discover joy in their lives."
The Dementia Resource Center serves the same population who attend the Library's monthly Memory Cafés. The Memory Cafés, which began in September 2018, take place on the third Saturday of each month from 1:00 to 3:00 pm in the Falcon Room. Memory Cafés bringing in art and service programs to provide enrichment activities for people living with dementia and build community and provide support for their care partners. The events are social, fun, and offer equalizing opportunities to engage in art, dance, or music, among other activities.
The next Memory Café on August 17 will be a poetry workshop. No registration is necessary.
People with dementia and their care partners are important stakeholders in the Evanston community. The Library offers them a dedicated program and resources to broaden their opportunities for fun and education.