David Nisbet’s father died of dementia this summer, and he wanted to do something to honor his dad and also help other families cope with the sadness of watching a loved one’s memory slip away.
Nisbet, 58, who helped care for his father, Dinsmore Nisbet, knew how challenging it can be to take a person with dementia out in public, especially for a meal.
He had done it plenty of times, but he would brace himself, fearful his father might have an outburst, and he would sometimes feel sidelong glances from other customers. He wished there was a place nearby to hold a “dementia night” so memory loss patients and their caregivers could know they were welcome.
Nisbet, who manages four quick-service oil change businesses and frequently commutes between his home in Lexington, Ky., and Huntington, W.Va., found just the place: Jim’s Steak and Spagheitti House, a landmark family restaurant in downtown Huntington, started by a couple who both died of dementia-related causes.
Bradley Tweel, who co-manages the restaurant with his aunt, Jimmie Carder, quickly signed on with Nisbet’s plan and agreed to hold a “dementia friendly” night at Jim’s at least once a month. The first one is slated for Wednesday.
“We didn’t hesitate — we’re happy to help out and give people with dementia or Alzheimer’s in Huntington a welcoming environment,” said Tweel, 36.
“We know what people with dementia and their caregivers go through,” he said. “We know that they could probably use a night out together, and we wanted to show that we completely understand.”
Tweel’s grandparents, Jim and Sally Tweel, always welcomed everyone at the restaurant they opened in 1938. “That’s the legacy we want to continue,” Tweel said.