CVCOA leads the region in dementia-friendly programming

Memory Café Offerings Expand 

Vermont Business Magazine Barb Asen, Director of Family Caregiver Support at Central Vermont Council on Aging (CVCOA), along with Vermont Department of Libraries’ ABLE Library, has led a team of staff and volunteers to build a partnership with a memory cafe in Scotland. The two groups have expanded monthly “Memorable Times Online” gatherings into a weekly transatlantic Zoom series for people living with mild to moderate memory loss and their care partners.  

Launched on January 17 and running through April 3, the “Winter Jukebox with Friends in Scotland” convenes on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. for a 45-minute program offering music, memories, and social connection. 

Open to the public, the Zoom meetings organized by Asen and Michael White, Scotland’s premier creator of reminiscence programs, share musical hits from the 1960s on, along with photos and short videos that invite stories, memories and laughter. 

White explained, “I think the big thing that surprised and delighted me was the laughter and the humor. One of our volunteers is a medical practitioner, and he said, ‘You don’t often hear the words humor and laughter and dementia in the same sentence.’ And it’s very true. I think it’s a tremendous opportunity that’s arisen.” 

Community members who wish to create more opportunities for people with memory loss to keep engaged socially may also help plan the events and accompany friends. “Our program is a delightful and important part of growing a dementia-friendly community,” Asen comments.   

The partnership between Vermont and Scotland first came about in 2021, after White and Asen connected through the international Memory Café Percolator Network with common interest in a combined event. It’s been a hit! The two groups come together regularly to share samplings of music and culture in a social format.  

Memorable Times Online, which CVCOA and ABLE began at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, remains the only virtual memory cafe in Vermont. The partners also host “Memorable Times Café”, an in-person version meeting quarterly at the Vermont History Center in Barre.  The next in-person meeting will be on April 17th, from 1:30 - 3 p.m.

Central Vermont Council on Aging (CVCOA) supports older Central Vermonters to age with dignity and choice in 54 towns.  Visit the CVCOA website at or call the CVCOA Helpline at 1-802-477-1364 for more information or assistance. CVCOA is located at 59 North Main Street, Suite 200 in Barre with regional offices located in Morrisville, Randolph, South Royalton and Rochester.                                                     

Central Vermont Council on Aging

59 N Main St, Ste 200

Source: Barre, VT (February 9, 2024) Central Vermont Council on Aging Vermont Business Magazine