Dementia Cafés That Balance Programs, Guests Can Have Positive Impact

December 10, 2019

As the global dementia population continues to grow rapidly, innovative strategies to provide care and support for patients and their families have evolved. Among the developments is the concept of the “dementia café.” A new study in the December issue of JAMDA, Dementia Cafés as a Community Resource for Persons with Early-Stage Cognitive Disorders: A Nationwide Survey in Japan, concluded that an appropriate balance of programs and guests would enhance this resource’s effectiveness for various stakeholders, especially in the disease’s early stages.

Dementia cafés are venues where people with dementia, their families, community members, and other stakeholders meet to interact and discuss each other’s experiences under the coordination of professionals or those who know about living with dementia. While there were fewer than 50 dementia cafés in Japan in 2012, the number increased to 4,267 by 2017. Each café operates independently.

In a survey of the dementia cafés in Japan, the authors found that the largest proportion of these were public institutions (43.9%), followed by long-term care insurance nursing care service providers (42.8%). About a third (36.1%) of the venues were community spaces provided by day-service institutions and community-based care service providers; 18.3% were in public spaces such as community centers, and 13.2% were in restaurants and cafés. Professionals made up more than 20% of the management staff in 91.7% of the cafés.

The most common meeting frequency at the cafés was monthly, with most groups meeting for an average of two hours at a time. The programs mainly involved private consultation and advice, activities, and mini-lectures. About one-fourth (22.8%) of the cafés didn’t have a fixed program schedule. The average number of guests was 17.7. Most of these were community members, followed by professionals, families, and people with dementia. Most guests with dementia were at the mild-to-moderate stage; individuals concerned about having/getting dementia and those with mild cognitive impairment also were among the guests. Only a small number (6.1%) were identified as having severe dementia.

The authors found that the longer these cafés were open, the greater the frequency of meetings. And the higher the number of guests, the more positive an impact they had—both for people with dementia and family members.  

“Dementia cafés may play a major role as a type of community resource where not only medical and care professionals but also community members, people with dementia, and their families, meet and cooperate,” the authors concluded. However, they further observed, “…what type of management methods will be effective in dementia cafés and what effectiveness they will bring warrant further investigation.”

This study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Geriatrics and Cognitive Disorders, Fujita Health University School of Medicine, Aichi, Japan; Sendai Center for Dementia Care Research and Practices, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan; Takahashi Memory Clinic, Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan; and Institute for Gerontology, J.F. Oberlin University, Machida, Tokyo, Japan.

Click here for more information on the findings above and more details about the study. To contact the researchers or JAMDA editor for an interview, please email



JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit for more information.

About the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine
AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit for more information.