Lamar student brings new dementia resource programs to Southeast Texas

Lamar student brings new dementia resource programs to Southeast Texas

Natalie Sfeir, a junior speech-language pathology major from Beaumont, will host a memory café Monday, July 24, from 6-7:30 p.m. to create “Memory Matters” books and other useful tools for those affected by dementia.

“My fellowship empowered me to create something that will benefit the Southeast Texas community, and it’s the first of its kind in our area — a memory café,” Sfeir said. “It’s so important for those affected by dementia and their loved ones to enjoy some quality time together in a judgment-free zone and to have access to resources in the area. … I hope … the memory café will bring the community together to learn about resources in our area. … The memory café will be a staple in our speech and hearing department and continue to be sustainable source of comfort to our neighbors living with dementia.”

The project is a part of Sfeir’s work as a recipient of the 2017 David J. Beck Fellowship, which covers all school expenses such as tuition, fees, books and on-campus room and board for one year and includes up to $10,000 to pursue a project.

“The reason this project is so meaningful is that it can really make a difference in the lives of those affected by dementia, their caregivers, and their loved ones. It will act as a ‘home away from home’ by providing support and comfort,” said Sfeir.

Sfeir’s mentors are Ashley Dockens, assistant professor of audiology, and Karen Whisenhunt Saar, instructor of speech-language pathology and director of clinical services. Her project involves studying community dementia cafes in Europe and Minnesota to understand support techniques and implementing her findings in southeast Texas.

Sfeir also hosted a Community Resource Day for individuals living with dementia and their loved ones at the Lamar University Speech and Hearing Building on July 13.