The name of the restaurant was 注文を間違える料理店, which means “The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders.” While its chefs are young professionals, the wait staff is made up entirely of elderly people living with dementia. One of the silver-haired waitresses, who has advanced Alzheimer’s disease, occasionally forgot what she was doing there.
“What do I do?” She asked one young couple.
“You’re here to help us order food,” the man said.
“Ah, yes,” she said, then laughed gleefully while covering her mouth with one hand.
It’s striking to witness such a jovial scene surrounding an issue that people tend to resist discussing openly in Japan, where 4.6 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. The country’s rapidly aging population means that, by 2025, the figure will rise to 7.3 million people, or one out of every five Japanese citizens over the age of 65.
Here’s a brief clip of the restaurant in action from TBWA\HAKUHODO, and some of the community reactions as well:
I don’t know about you, but Dementia and Alzheimers are two of my greatest fears. I imagine, I’m not alone in that regard. The self-destructive neurodegenerative attack of the nervous system is largely caused by prions. Which are terrifying, and still a bit of a mystery.
As such, treatment techniques are still largely hit or miss and based on the severity of the disease progression, and many of the treatments still aren’t fully understood either. For now, the best thing we can do is fund Alzheimer’s Research non-profits and support ethical treatment centers such as the Hogewey in Amsterdam, which is essentially an entire town of medical professionals devoted to caring for 150+ patients.
Places like The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders in Japan, keep the conversation of vital treatment and research alive, and unconventional concepts like this give those suffering a reprieve from the social frustrations these sorts of neurodegenerative diseases can create. It’s a charming and lovely restaurant concept that I hope stays afloat for as long as possible. I think we can all take a page out of their playbook and bring dignity, patience and respect to everyone in our lives. Wether they are afflicted with Alzheimers or just Arthritis — a little patience goes a long way.