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Coffee and quality time

Memory Café to help those with Alzheimer’s

October 11, 2017
Chuck Ballaro ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

For people living with Alzheimer's Disease and their caretakers, it can be an exhausting experience for both.

Not only do those who suffer from it lose the ability to remember things, but they can also become uncomfortable in social situations. The result is they become very isolated, locking themselves up from the rest of the world.

The Knotty Bean, at 2801 Estero Blvd., in Fort Myers Beach, is looking to change that, by offering a Memory Caf for them and their caregivers starting today.

On the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., the caf opens to those with early stages of the disease and their caregivers.

The mission is twofold; to give these people information to help them cope with the illness and to give them an opportunity to come out of their shells and give them the social outlet they have been missing and desperately need.

Valorie Steinbeck, the caf owner, advocated for seniors for much of her adult life, which made her familiar with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. She said for early-onset victims, the debilitating disease can hit hard.

"Early-onset patients are still aware enough and they become very self-conscious of forgetting words and not being able to function appropriately in a public setting," Steinbeck said. "They become a recluse, they stay home and don't go anywhere. And their caregivers do the same thing."

When she and her husband moved here from California, they decided to open a caf, as coffee was Valorie's passion. She said she realized that her target demographic was older, and with older people, the chances of those having Alzheimer's is greater.

"I was talking with my husband about how to marry my present with my past and how to give back. I read about memory cafes," Steinbeck said.

Memory cafes have become widespread throughout the country. Now, there are more than 300. Steinbeck said more are popping up every day, which helps create a social environment for these individuals.

"They can pay and have a real caf experience or not. We're hoping to receive donations from organizations," Steinbeck said, who has gotten support from the Alzheimer's Association in Bonita Springs.

Steinbeck said coffee is beneficial to Alzheimer's sufferers, as it helps stimulation of the mind. But the idea is to create a healthy environment for them to enjoy twice a month, with both tools and socialization, the latter being the most important.

"The goal is to bring tools and some quick-snippet speakers about fall prevention and memory enhancement. I have a kit called Calendar Cards, a system that helps them navigate their day," Steinbeck said. "We're going to try to bring resources but keep it short because the idea is for them to visit and enjoy their time."

For Steinbeck, it's not only about helping others, but leaving an imprint on the lives of others.

"My footprint is to leave a resource that outlasts me on the beach for all those who suffer from the disease," Steinbeck said. "Whether it's me or someone else, I'm hoping this resource remans indefinitely."

For more information, call 233-8635 or go to



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