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Good times and great friends at Ethel’s Place: Social event is for those with dementia or mild cognitive impairment

There’s always room for one more at Ethels’ Place.

The new monthly social event from AARP Michigan is a casual, welcoming gathering designed for individuals living with dementia or mild cognitive impairment, along with their family and friends. AARP is hoping to foster more social connections in the community by bringing back in-person events.

“The purpose of Ethel’s Place — and memory cafés generally — is to provide an opportunity for people living with dementia and their friends and family to connect and have fun in an inclusive, welcoming setting,” said Lisa Dedden Cooper, AARP Michigan manager of advocacy. “It’s something people can put on their calendar and look forward to every month.”

The café includes singing and refreshments, so people can come, relax, meet new people and have fun in an environment for people and their family members who may be dealing with a form of dementia.

Cooper said that music is an important part of what is done together at Ethel’s Place, with research showing that listening, singing and making music can help support brain health as people age.

“People with strong social connections live longer and are physically and mentally healthier than people who are socially isolated,” she said. “And staying socially connected is important whether a person has dementia or not. But too often, people living with dementia and their care partners become increasingly isolated.”

Mark and Brenda Roberts love to spend their time at Ethel’s Place. Mark is living with vascular dementia and looks forward to the event every month.

“Since my dementia diagnosis, many of my friends have fallen by the wayside,” he said. “I look forward to Ethel’s Place every month. I get to visit people and have fun. The AARP volunteers always make me feel welcome. They have become my friends. It is a great day out for my wife and me.”

“Besides the karaoke, another thing I like about Ethel’s Place is I meet people in similar situations, and we can provide each other with encouragement,” Brenda added. “Sometimes we might get a little teary- eyed, but most of the time we are talking and laughing. It feels good.”

Ethel’s Place is held on the first Thursday of every month from 2-4 p.m. at The Venue, near the northwest entrance to the Lansing Mall. Admission is entirely free of charge and AARP Michigan invites anyone who’s interested to attend.

For more information about Ethel’s Place and to register for the next event, visit or call 877-926-8300.