Category Archives: Café Le Brain

Join us as we say goodbye to 2021

Please Join Dementia Alliance International as we say goodbye to 2021, and celebrate the new year with a Festive Season Café! 

Altough late postign here, we are thrilled to invite all DAI members, family, friends and partners as well as anyone in the global dementia community to join us for a Special Festive Season Café to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season & ring in the new year! Hosted by the DAI Board of Directors.

This is a virtual celebratory event primarily for DAI members, family, and friends. Everyone is welcome. Please respect our members; it is not a networking opportunity.

– Tuesday, December 21, 2021 (USA/CA/UK/EU)
– Wednesday, December 22, 2021 (AU/NZ/Asia)
– Please note this is one event, set in a number of different time zones.


Tuesday, December 21, 2021 (USA/CA/UK/EU):

    • 1:00 pm PST
    • 2:00 pm MST
    • 3:00 pm CST
    • 4:00 pm EST
    • 9:00 pm GMT, UK

Wednesday, December 22, 2021 ( AU/NZ/ASIA):

    • 5:00 am SGT
    • 7:00 am AEST
    • 7:30 am ACDT
    • 8:00 am AEDT
    • 10:00 am NZDT

Check your time here if not listed above.


  • FREE

Support people with dementia this holiday season!

Please donate to DAI or become an Associate or Partner with us!

Without YOUR DONATIONS, DAI could not provide the services we currently provide for members, their families & our global family.



The importance of connections by Chrissy Thelker

For Day 8 of Dementia Awareness Month, we are thrilled to publish a blog about the importance of connections, written by DAI member, Chrissy Thelker.  #WAM2021 #DAM2021 Thank you Christine.

The Importance Of Connections 

By Christine Thelker
This morning much too my delight, I received a video call from a friend who also lives with dementia, she is in Scotland to visit her mother.
Now for a little history; she and I have never met in person, yet we have a connection, a friendship that is the type of friendship that warrants a video call even though she’s on the other side of the world on holidays at the moment.
During our conversation today she told me one of the reasons she had to call was because she wanted to thank me, for reaching out and answering her when she was first diagnosed and looking for support.
It was through that that she became a member of DAI, it was through that that the friendship blossomed. DAI is often the gateway to connecting people. It affords us the opportunity to meet others who share our journey.
DAI gives us that safe place to share to laugh to cry. To rediscover who we are after being devastated by receiving a diagnosis.
The people we meet, the webinars the cafes, the support groups, they all help us learn to live, to really live, despite our illness. You can attend many groups, work with many organizations, and they all offer certain things, we can gain something from many of them. I have watched as many who came to DAI struggling through the devastation of being diagnosed, feeling lost, alone, their confidence and self worth bottomed out.
I have watched those same people flourish and bloom, to go on to do many great things, not only for and as part of DAI, but also to start, or take active roles in other organizations, they have found themselves, reinvented themselves, regained the confidence they had lost and they are doing an incredible things that end up helping others.
And that was what the video call this morning was about, a call to say thank you for reaching out, because while in Scotland it offered her the opportunity to be that for someone else, and so felt compelled to say thank you. I was so moved by that call, we discussed how important those connections we make are, how important and intricate they are to our journey to find our wellness, to our continued well being.
We form connections, we find friendships, even with people we haven’t met.
We so often talk about all the things we can do to help us in our bid to live our best lives with dementia, we talk about, rehabilitation, nutrition, exercise, sleep, being mindful. But I believe the often overlooked piece is connections, connections with others.
I am grateful for the friendships and connections DAI has brought to my life, I continue to reach out to others, and have been so grateful to hear on several occasions in the last few weeks from some thanking me and I always hope that they to can offer that someday to someone. My friend thanked me for the gift I had bestowed on her which allowed her to be that person for someone else, the connections are truly a gift.
Together the impact we have on each other, for each other, is priceless.
So for Dementia Awareness Month, I challenge you all to think about the friendships you’ve made, and reach out and offer it up to others, encourage them to join DAI, so they to can go on and be instrumental in all the good that’s being done out there, through DAI and the many grassroots and local groups, and many organizations that are striving to improve the lives of those of us who are living with dementia.
Christine Thelker 

Since you’re here, please donate to DAI today

By donating to DAI, you will ensure we can continue our work supporting people diagnosed with dementia, our families and friends who support us, and the broader dementia community of researchers and professionals.

You are invited to DAI’s 7th birthday Cafe

You are invited to the January 2021 virtual DAI Cafe Le Brain to help us celebrate 7 years of DAI’s advocacy and progress.

DAI Celebrates 7 Years

Hosts: Christine Thelker, Wally Cox and Kate Swaffer

Speakers include: Mr John Sandblom, Co founder and Treasurer, Dementia Alliance International, Mr Glenn Rees, Chair, Alzheimers Disease International and Ms Bethany Browne, Human Rights Advisor, International Disability Alliance.

Everyone is welcome.

DAI members will receive the zoom link to join by email.
All others will need to register here please.


  • Tuesday, January 26, 2021 (USA/CA/UK/EU)
  • Wednesday, January 27, 2021 (AU/NZ/Asia)
  • Please note this is one event, set in a number of different time zones.

About the Cafe: Every month, DAI hosts a virtual café for its members and their families and supporters, and we have been doing so now for over 7 years!

Each January, we take this opportunity to celebrate our birthday together, and we invite you to join us. From small and humble dreams of global advocacy and human rights, and now, for dementia to be managed as a disability, alongside providing weekly peer to peer support and brain health sessions, we have achieved a lot!

This is your opportunity to hear from others who will share where we have been, acknowledging the work we have done, and dreaming together for our future. Our vision is for all people to be valued and equally included, including people with dementia and our care partners.

Everyone is welcome.

DAI members will receive the zoom link to join by email.
All others will need to register here please.


  • Introductions and welcome by Kate Swaffer
  • Graeme Atkins performs, Happy 7th birthday DAI
  • Introducing our new Chair, Alister Robertson from New Zealand
  • Board update, Alister Robertson
  • DAI ‘(W)re-creational Officer, Graeme Atkins performs the DAI 7th birthday song, written by him
  • DAI’s global advocacy, and the value of our collaboration with ADI, by Glenn Rees
  • The importance of human rights and the CRPD for people with dementia, by Bethany Browne
  • An overview of the last 7 years (with images), hosted by Christine, Kate and Wally; you will hear from others including co founder Amy Shives and our long term volunteer Sarah Yeates

We will hear from a number of members and guests, inluding some of our co founders, volunteers and other special guests, including:

Mr John Sandblom, who is a co-founder of Dementia Alliance International (DAI), board member and the current Treasurer, and was instrumental in helping to set up DAI.

Mr Glenn Rees, who is the outgoing Chair of Alzheimer’s Disease International, and a former Chief Executive Office of Dementia Australia.

Ms Bethany Browne, who is the Human Rights Advisor to the International Disability Alliance, and formely worked for Human Rights Watch, including writing two reports on the excessive use of chemical restraint in nursing homes in the US and Australia.

Everyone is welcome.

DAI members will receive the zoom link to join by email.
All others will need to register here please.


Tuesday, January 26, 2021 (USA/CA/UK/EU):

  • 1:00 pm Pacific
  • 2:00 pm Mountain
  • 3:00 pm Central
  • 4:00 pm Eastern
  • 9:00 pm London/Glasgow/Dublin UK
  • 10:00 pm Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, EU

Wednesday, January 26, 2021 ( AU/NZ/ASIA):

  • 5:00 am Perth, AU/Taipei/Singapore
  • 7:00 am Brisbane, AU
  • 7:30 am Adelaide, AU
  • 8:00 am Sydney/Melbourne/Canberra/Tasmania/Brisbane, AU
  • 10:00 am Auckland, NZ

The Webinar runs for up to 1.5 hours.

Check your time here if not listed above.


  • FREE


Support people with dementia:

Everyone is welcome.

DAI members will receive the zoom link to join by email.
All others will need to register here please.


Join us to celebrate the end of 2020!

Join us to celebrate the Festive Season and the end of 2020!

This is your invitation to join us at our December Virtual Festive Season Cafe, which is being hosted by Christine Thelker, Janet Duglas and Wally Cox.  It has been a truly challenging year for everyone, and we are grateful for our DAI family and friends, and look forward to sharing this time together.

Please note, this virtual cafe is for DAI members, our families, our friends and DAI supporters. Everyone is welcome.

  • Tuesday, December 22, 2020 (USA/CA/UK/EU)
  • Wednesday, December 23, 2020 (AU/NZ/ASIA)
Reminder: this is one event, set in many time zones
The zoom link to join will be provided closer to the day.
The cafe will commence with a welcome and time for introductions, followed by a quick update on the latest DAI news from the board. It will follow with lots of fun and friendship!

Christine and Janet have planned a fun programme, including a surprise visit from Father Christmas, live music from Graeme Atkins, and a beautiful song written by DAI member James McKillop and performed by his friend, Callum McNab.

Wally will hopefully keep us all on track with his wonderful sense of humor.

Tuesday December 22, 2020 (USA/CA/UK/EU):
  • 1:00 pm PST
  • 2:00 pm MST
  • 3:00 pm CST
  • 4:00 pm EST
  • 9:00 pm GMT, UK
  • 10:00 pm CET, Germany
Wednesday December 23, 2020 (AU/NZ/ASIA):
  • 5:00 am Perth AU/Singapore, SGT
  • 7:00 am AEST, Brisbane
  • 7:30 am ACDT, Adelaide
  • 8:00 am AEDT, Sydney/Melbourne
  • 10:00 am NZDT, Auckland
Our virtual Cafe runs for up to 1.5 hours; check your time here if not listed above.

We look forward to seeing you very soon!

Christine, Janet and Wally
On behalf of the DAI Board of Directors
Dementia Alliance International

Support our important work with a donation

Note: we sometimes use voice recognition software for correspondence​ and newsletters; ​​hence there may be some grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, for which we thank you for your understanding.


Jerry Wylie and the Dementia Warriors #DAM2020

Today was our monthly Cafe Le Brain, and unfortunately for everyone, one of the co hosts’ internet died, so it was a rather disjointed cafe! We had a few topics on the agenda, including with Jerry Wylie’s permission, watching a video made about setting his local support group, called the Dementia Warriors.

Jerry Wylie, USA

Therefore to support those who missed out on the video at our Cafe, for Day 16 of Dementia Awareness Month #DAM2020 #WAM2020, we are not only adding that video here, we are highlighting Jerry’s journey from diagnosis to now, by posting two videos highlighting his incredible advocacy.

The first is a video recording of a presentation he gave at the ADI conference in Chicago in 2018. The second is a video that was made about setting up his local support group. It has been an incredible journey to partlt share with him; from diagnosis, to depression, to renewed purpose.

Thank you Jerry.

We are so glad DAI was the catalyst to help you see there is still a good life to live, in spite of dementia.

Jerry presents at the ADI Conference in Chicago

As a keynote speaker at the ADI Conference in Chicago in 2018, Jerry shared his deeply personal story, which included him sharing how he had been depressed and even suicidal after his diagnosis, and his passion became one of helping to stop other people’s lives being thrown in the bin after their diagnosis like his was!

People who become empowered to live positively and with renewed meaning and purpose is exactly one of the outcomes the original founders of DAI dreamed of. Life is short, so DAI works towards actively supporting people to get back to living their own lives, and also to have fun again.

Jerry Wylie, speaks on founding the Dementia Warriors.

Jerry often said that joining DAI saved his life, and attending a support group over zoom was the first time he had smiled or laughed since his diagnosis. He is now living the his life with true purpose ad passion, and we all applaud and congratulate him for having the tenacity to keep advocating, until this particular dream was achieved.

Well done Jerry, we hope other members may be inspired to follow you, and we are all very proud of what you have achieved, and how you continue to support families facing dementia.

Read the brochure about Jerry’s exciting Dementia Warriors support group.

A story of Walls, Connections & Merry-go-rounds, by Wally Cox

Wally Cox, who is a DAI Board member and peer to per support co-host presented this video presentation at our recent Café Le Brain.

This moving story of love, and his role as a care partner for is wife, and then the transiton from husband and care partner, to himself needing care and support since his own diagnosis of dementia.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story” (Maya Angelou).

This is Wally and Pat’s story.

A story of Walls, Connections & Merry-go-rounds.

By Wally Cox

Being a good care partner is not easy. That is a lesson I learned. 

Pat and I first started dating when we were teens. Determined to get married, we announced to both sets of parents, “We are getting married next Saturday and we sure would like you to come.” I assured them that I had a job that paid 50 cents an hour over minimum wage, an apartment, $75 in the bank, a brand new water couch in the living room (Hey, it was, after all, the 70’s), and my ’65 VW bus was paid for, free and clear – so there! But imagine, they did not share our excitement. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Undoubtedly it was because we were marrying the day after Pat graduation from high school. But we were in love, did get married, and created a wonderful life together, raising three kids. Things were going great until we were blindsided.

It was 1994 when Pat had first become ill. She needed me. And indeed as a doting husband, I undertook all the mechanical aspects of her care. I took her to the best doctors, I made sure she had nutritious food to eat, I helped with medications to ease her pain, and I researched symptoms at the library. However, my emotional response became embroiled in frustration, fear, and self-preservation. When she needed me to sit with her, hold her hand, look into her eyes and tell her I loved her, I became distant, detached, and unavailable… I had gained so much knowledge with so little wisdom.

Sinking in the midst of my own crisis, I didn’t understand why this disconnect was happening. I reached out to a counselor and learned that I was exhibiting a common behavior. Through counseling, I learned that I was defending myself against loss. I had made this all about me instead of all about us.

You see, I was building a wall, stone by stone, of emotional detachment. I was creating a distance between us that had never been present before.

I was hardening my heart so if Pat did not survive, it would not hurt as much. Heroes run into danger and trouble to help those in need. But in my fear, I chose to turn away. I didn’t leave, but I disconnected, building a wall to shield myself from the heartache that was coming.

So much for being a hero in time of need.

In order to break down this wall, I had to take a risk and become vulnerable. I had to let Pat into the darkness of my pain and thoughts:

  • What would I do if she didn’t survive?
  • What would become of our family?
  • Would I ever find love again?
  • And if I did, would that be a betrayal?
  • Could she forgive me for my selfish reaction in the midst of her crisis?

Together, and with professional help, we worked out these issues and built an even stronger bond than we had imagined possible. My fears were normal, our love enduring, our connection complete, the wall demolished.

Lesson learned.

It was seven years later that Pat battled her illness once again, this time ending up in the ICU in grave condition. The doctors told me she could not survive and to call our children home to say their goodbyes. While this was a very difficult time in our lives and as hard as that was to hear, I knew this time I did my very best to stay connected to her – heart to heart – through this second bout of her illness. She and I were prepared, as well as anyone could be, to see our journey together through to the end. I was determined to be the best care partner – both physically and emotionally – a husband could be.

Well, God had His plan for us and our future. It was a miracle Pat survived, and it was a miracle that I had become the husband and care partner she needed.


Walls – so good at keeping things out, and so good at keeping things in.

I learned so much through this journey about being a care partner. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself building walls yet again, but now I was on the other side of the scenario as a person who needed and still needs care.

It was at work that I first noticed something was amiss. Sometimes, I didn’t recognize clients whom I had seen just the previous day, computer icons didn’t make sense, and I would repeat questions I had just asked. Simple tasks were no longer so simple. Finally, one day a client who was clearly exasperated by my pacing and confusion asked me, “What are you.. stupid??”  Wow! That hurt! No, I thought, not stupid, but something definitely was wrong.

I was only 60 years old, I had built a successful insurance practice, and yet tasks that I had previously done practically on autopilot suddenly became almost impossible to complete.

My doctor sent me for a neurological workup, where I was given the diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment with the instructions to go on home and return in one year. Boy, it sure didn’t seem so MILD to me. During that year, I made more and more mistakes at work, I was having trouble with decisions at home, and I started feeling awkward in social situations.  Worst of all, I no longer trusted my own judgement.

At my next neurology appointment, I was given the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. Three generations of dementia: my grandmother, my father, and now me.

I left the job I loved, resigned as a school board member, and quit almost all social functions. After resigning from the school board, I received a call from the local newspaper requesting an interview to discuss the resignation. Instead of taking advantage of this perfect opportunity to speak about Alzheimer’s Disease, I just told the reporter I was ill and I didn’t want to talk about it. When he persisted for more information, I pleaded with him to just leave me alone. Yes, once again I was building my wall.

There I was, isolated by my own choice, hiding from my illness, afraid what others would think. I went into hiding behind my wall… and why?… because of the stigma and fear I felt of having Alzheimer’s.

In the book “Why Many People Abandon Friends and Family with Dementia – and Shouldn’t”, the author states that dementia today is treated like cancer was in the 50’s and 60’s, spoken of in whispers and sometimes kept from its sufferers. You know, like “Aunt Phyllis has the Big C but we are not telling her. Shhhhhhh….. Well now, I had the Big D, Shhhhhhhhh… don’t tell anybody.

 Pat recognized what I was doing and helped me knock that wall down. She found the Alzheimer’s Association in Santa Rosa and signed us up for the Early Stage Support Group. I had my doubts about this group. She signed me up for a support group online with DAI, Dementia Alliance International, a forum run by, and for, those of us with dementia. I had my doubts about this as well.

But I was surprised to discover people talking about dementia openly, unashamedly, and without apology. Counselors, care partners, and people who needed care helped me see that my life still had purpose… hope… which I was missing. I learned again to tear down my wall.

Walls… only the first lesson…

And then Pat and I had to move on to the second lesson…

The Merry-Go-Round.

When I was a motorcycle riding safety instructor, one of the most important lessons I taught was, “Look where you want to go.” You see, we naturally veer in the direction we are looking. I would instruct new riders to pick the best path to follow and aim for it. Don’t focus on the things you want to avoid, the tree, the rocks, the potholes. Look in the direction you want to go. The same is true when facing an illness.

When I was diagnosed, our family doctor told my wife and me to go home and “get our affairs in order.” What did that mean to me? How did I respond? Well, at first, all I could focus on were the depths of the diagnosis, losing myself one bit at a time and all that entailed.

It was as if I was on a merry-go-round, standing on the outside edge as it was spinning around, staring resolutely at the center pole where I saw my future – the big D’s – Dementia, Despair, Depression, Disappointment, Death. I found myself not being able to see anything else, whirling in circles, becoming ill from worry, stress and concerns.

Yet, meanwhile, as I focused on the center of the merry-go-round, behind and surrounding me were all the good things that I would have seen if I had just turned around and looked out instead of in. I was looking at the tree, the rock, the pothole – my Alzheimer’s dementia.

I needed to look outward from this merry-go-round, to see another path, the rest of my world — filled with faith, family, friends, music, love, adventures, art. I needed to recognize that I am more than my diagnosis, that I am more than my illness. Yes, there are things I truly cannot do, but there are many things I can. That is the path I have chosen.

Pat and I have started traveling in our RV, seeing new places and making new friends. I started expanding my interest in art, with my sketching and watercolors. I do more of the things I can to help in our daily lives, and Pat does more of the things she must. But it works.

So where are you and your loved one on the merry-go-round? Are you staring inward at what cannot be controlled or outward to what is possible?

So where are you with your emotional walls? Are you building up, or are you tearing down?

Emotional walls – merry-go-rounds- these are two things that do affect how we wake up in the morning; they do affect how we go through our day; they do affect how we relate to other people; and they do affect how we appreciate the things we have.

We need to recognize and work toward building connections, slaying fear and opening our hearts, having a spirit of gratitude. This is a daily choice.

We need to recognize that the merry-go-round of life is always there. But while we are alive, we can still choose to look in or to look out. This is a daily choice.

The choice for Pat and me is to love, live, laugh, and connect.  What do you choose?