What's Ringing Rachel's 'Belle'?
Rachel Belle
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A band plays at Alzheimer's Cafe at Columbia City's Tutta Bella. (Photo by Rachel Belle)

Alzheimer's Cafe serves up pizza and sing-a-longs

Every second Thursday of the month, the Columbia City location of Tutta Bella Neopolitan Pizzeria transforms into what's called Alzheimer's Cafe. People with Alzheimer's, and their caretakers, are invited to have a meal and socialize.

"This concept originated in Europe," says Full Life Care executive director, Nora Gibson. "The idea being that lots of people living with Alzheimer's are in our communities and they're hidden and they often don't feel comfortable coming out. By using the phrase, Alzheimer's Cafe, it calls out that this is a place that you can come and feel comfortable. The importance is that it's just in a regular restaurant, a place that you might want to go with your family, and have some food and have some fun in a neighborhood. Rather than a place where you get services or support."

Tutta Bella gives the group their own wing of the restaurant, they print up a special, shorter menu, so diners don't have to get lost in a sea of choices, and servers know to be extra patient. There's also live music and a sing-a-long.

Alice Padilla was diagnosed with Alzheimers last year and she came to Alzheimer's Cafe with her husband Paul.

"Paul and I, when we came home from the doctor's, we sat down and we cried together and that was the last time I had cried. Paul has cried but I don't cry for me because I don't have the time. I want the time that I have to be happy and joyful and that's how we live our lives."

Paul says the monthly gathering is super helpful.

"This is my support group also. I get some insight from other people, some information that might be useful for me: websites, resources, and the support, the support's the greatest thing."

Bob Ballard stopped in to spend time with the friends he's made at Alzheimer's Cafe. His wife Jeanne, who was diagnosed in 2005, wasn't in the mood to come that day.

"It's an opportunity for my wife to get out. With her disability it's kind of embarrassing in places where she's observed. Her eating habits are kind of not the best. So there's a little bit of cleanup after she's eaten."

Nora says it's very important for those with dementia and Alzheimer's to have social interaction, and Alzheimer's Cafe reminds the public that even though they don't act quite the same as they used to, they're still people.

"People who live with Alzheimer's, they're still here, they haven't disappeared, they still have a lot to offer and contribute. The Alzheimer's Cafe is a part of a movement to encourage that to happen."

There are also Alzheimer's Cafes in Edmonds, Renton, Greenwood and coming soon in Issaquah.

Rachel Belle, Ron and Don Show Reporter
Rachel Belle is a feature contributor and personality on The Ron & Don Show on KIRO Radio (weekdays 3-7pm), and host of Ring My Belle Weekends (Sundays at 3pm).
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Ring My Belle on KIRO Radio
Tune in to KIRO Radio on Sundays at 3pm for Ring my Belle with Rachel Belle.

Who is Rachel Belle?
Rachel Belle's "Ring My Belle" segment airs Monday-Friday on The Ron & Don Show at 4:37pm and 6:37pm. You can hear "Ring My Belle Weekends" Saturdays at 5:00pm Sundays at 3:00pm. Rachel is a northern California native who loves anything and everything culinary, playing Scrabble, petting cats and performing improv.

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