Two dining locations in Charlottesville are the first in the effort to make dementia-friendly dining services a priority, and it's making all the difference for families whose lives have already changed so much.

Staff at both Travinia and Burton's Grill, located at The Shops at Stonefield, recently underwent training with members of the Alzheimer’s Association, to understand dementia and learn how to communicate with those suffering with it.

When a person has Alzheimer’s disease, it's often difficult for a family to go out to dinner together because they're worried about what might happen.

For Karen Smith, going out to eat with her husband used to be routine but now they eat most meals at home. Smith's husband has been diagnosed with dementia, so enjoying a meal in public together can be a challenge. 

"You want to still continue with some of the normal aspects of your life,” Smith added, "When we go out, he can't read the menu and it requires a lot of patience for the servers to just be patient with us because it's going to take a little bit and there's going to be some questions and some descriptions that are going to have to occur."

That patience is now a skill that staff at Travinia and Burton’s Grill have. Both locations learned communication tips and how to create a respectful environment for those living with the diseases. 

“Everybody wants to come out to dinner as well with their families and they want to feel comfortable when they're dining," Chelsea Wood, general manager of Travinia says, “A lot of our staff members were appreciative of the training and they found it very informative because they've noticed after the training that they have handled customers that have had dementia and they didn't even know it."

Smith is excited to get back to doing something she enjoys with her husband's company.

"I just think everyone should get on board with this." Smith added, "It's really a service that you can do to the community that doesn't take a lot to do but it makes all the difference in the world.”

Wood says she's hoping to expand the dementia-friendly dining service center wider in the future, saying, "The community gives so much to us, so this is just a way that we can invite those to come out and have a comfortable dining experience".

Travinia and Burton's Grill offer the dementia-friendly dining experience all day, but say the best time for those families to dine in is between 2 and 5 p.m.