About Old Friends Club
We cultivate joy in the lives of adults with dementia and nourish their family caregivers’ well-being by empowering community organizations to meaningfully support people living with dementia and those who care for them.
Vision & Values
Our vision is a society where people with dementia- and those who care for them - are included, respected, supported, and have resources they need to live well. We connect caregivers with accessible, affordable respite care, giving them peace of mind knowing their loved one is experiencing culturally meaningful connection and belonging in a safe, welcoming group. We value people with dementia as whole human beings deserving of respect, enriching life experiences, and meaningful social connection. Even the most devoted caregivers benefit from regular respite to take care of their own health and well-being and return to caregiving with renewed energy, perspective, and resilience.
Daytime Memory Care and Respite Since 2015, Old Friends Club has been a trusted Daytime Memory Care and Caregiver Respite provider, expanding to four King County locations. In 2020, we are pivoting to partner with diverse populations to catalyze, inspire, and assist them in filling the gap in memory care in their own communities.
Old Friends Club empowers community-based organizations to offer tangible, life-changing support to people living with dementia and those who care for them. The friends and family of those with dementia are, by far, the leading providers of dementia care. So much depends on them, and they need our support.
The Clubs are community-based social respite programs that improve care and caregiver outcomes, and reduce the burden on the broader health care systems.
The need is urgent and reaches every community, so we must too. OFC believes empowering community organizations to start and lead social respite programs for the people they serve is the best way to 1.) quickly expand to meet the massive need for respite, and 2.) serve diverse communities while honoring each culture.
Old Friends Club is a dementia care resource improving on, or perhaps returning to the wholesome roots of, the adult day model. Studies show proven effectiveness and benefits of these programs, including promoting the resilience that caregivers need to continue offering care at home.
Each Club is a place of friendship and belonging for those living with dementia, where they share life together through conversation, music, art, games, exercise, and a meal. While they enjoy the Club, caregivers have reliable respite – practical chunks of time to recharge and tend to other needs.
There is an enormous gap in dementia care. Community organizations want to do more, and providers in the field of aging need real solutions to offer. Old Friends Club is a sustainable, replicable, affordable solution and can be the foundation of a system change. Join us.
Old Friends Club was established by Karen Koenig who was recently awarded a Service Recognition Award by the Washington State Association of Senior Centers. She was recognized and celebrated for her immediate and compassionate response to those families in need of memory care when Sno-Valley Senior Center had to close its long-running Adult Day Care Program in 2015.
As the former Program Coordinator for that program, Koenig was familiar with the population, community and members who had been served or given their support over the years. She gathered and motivated a small staff and collection of volunteers to create what is now Old Friends Club, a member-based social day program which focuses on strengths, respect, choice and fun, and encourages Club Members to interact and care for each other.
Family Caregivers are also supported with time for themselves and free resources to navigate the sometimes difficult journey of caring for someone with dementia. Old Friends Club currently offers services at three locations and is accepting new members.
Activity Director - Carnation, WA
Joan began working with this population more than 25 years ago, with a majority of those years as an activity coordinator for the Adult Day Health program at Sno-Valley Senior Center in Carnation. Perhaps because of her vast experience with this population, she has developed a very accessible style and creates a comfortable welcoming environment allowing members to feel at home very quickly. She is also the creator and designer of “Shake Loose a Memory,” a game using dice and cards that encourage memory in a social setting without the social pressure. Joan says each day brings new experience and that she continues to learn from each member. “Each one of us is unique in our personality and what we have personally lost to dementia,” she says, adding that she thinks everyone needs to respect and be respected for both.
Joan is always working to help members connect with themselves, their past and present, and with each other. “The day most special to me is when someone recalls a memory… and they are able to share their story with a group of friends.” She says it’s nice to see everyone listening, while some are remembering their own experiences and might even chime in to create a group discussion—people who may not be able to do that often or in any other situation. She says, “That’s a great feeling!” We have great feelings about Joan, too.
Katie Zeitler, MBA, CNA
Katie joined Old Friends Club doing Community Outreach during the summer of 2020. She began her career in healthcare in 2013 and took a position as an Activities Director at a memory care community in 2018. Her favorite thing about the job? "Getting to see people smile. The disease itself is hard, but there are some really bright moments. Like when you turn on a favorite song and you see someone's eyes light up and they start to sing along. Or, writing stories together. We always had so much fun doing that as a group - it was great to hear what people came up with! Such a creative bunch."
Grandparents on both her paternal and maternal sides both experienced Alzheimer's disease, so it is a disease she is familiar with on a personal level as well. Katie wants to help families, caregivers, and those living with dementia find support, improve their quality of life, and find meaningful engagement and connection. Katie is an advocate for the Alzheimer's Association and participates in advocacy days each year. She also wrote and illustrated a book about Alzheimer's disease for children and adults that she used as a fundraiser for the Walk to End Alzheimer's walk in 2020.