Multicultural Memory Centre - The Finnish Society for Memory Work`s aim is to secure that people from ethnic minority backgrounds with dementia get a timely and accurate diagnosis.


Multicultural Memory Centre MUKES supports social- and health care professionals and students by raising awareness of cultural sensitive memory work. We also raise the awareness of the elderly from ethnic minorities, about brain health, memory disorders, and dementia. Our primary goal and focus are to continue to support the elderlies from different language and cultural minorities and create a memory center that best suits their needs.













MUKES History


Webpage archive: The Society for Memory Disorders Expertise in Finland, ETNIMU-activity 2015-2020


Cultural-sensitive Memory Work in Finland


Pilots on Finnish memory work with ethnic minorities started in 2003 as a part of the IkäMAMU-activities of the Finnish Association for the Welfare of Older People. IkäMAMU mapped the situation of brain health among the Russian and Estonian-speaking residents of Helsinki. IkäMamu-activities also applied existing memory materials to work with the
Russian-speaking elderly with memory disorders and their family members. In 2004 services began for the Estonian and Russian-speaking customers at Kamppi service
center in Helsinki, where the Memory Clinic of the Helsinki Alzheimer’s Association operated. The memory clinic screened for memory impairments through assessment tests. Then, for the first time, a care pathway was created for the Estonian and the Russian-speaking elderly and their family members with social and health care professionals. At the time also a peer support group for Russian-speaking carers for the elderly with memory disorders was started.
The IkäMAMU-project was ended in the year 2005, and since then also the Memory Clinic of the Helsinki Alzheimer’s Association has stopped its services. The need for memory services in different languages, however, has not gone away – rather the opposite. Based on the feedback from different ethnic minority groups, the elderly would need and want to improve their brain health and gain more information about memory disorders in their native languages.

In order to meet such needs, Improving the Brain Health of Ethnic Minority Elderly, ETNIMUproject was started. In addition to the Estonian and Russian-speaking groups, that had already existed, new target groups included older Somali women and the Roma people.



ETNIMU-project 2015-2017


The deterioration of brain health and memory disorders can affect us all regardless of our language, culture, or nationality. In Finland social and health services are equal for all. Nonetheless, not everyone in need of services can access them or find the kind of services that would meet their needs.

Finland has a population of approximately 5.5 million. 200 000 people are living with mild cognitive impairment and 193 000 with progressive memory disorders. According to Statistics Finland, there are approximately 310 000 foreign-language speakers in Finland. Memory disorders are as recurrent among this population as they are among the ethnic Finns. With prevalence rates adjusted to those of the ethnic Finns, this means that there are 11 200 foreign-language speakers living with mild cognitive impairment and 10 900 foreign-language speakers with progressive memory disorders. These people form a patient group who is easily left out of services, for example, because of their insufficient Finnish language skills. Their brain health, nevertheless, should be taken care of as well. When the baby boomers reach elderhood and the total number of the elderly increases, this question will become more pertinent.

Whether an ethnic Finn or a minority ethnic person, memory disorders proceed the same. Their treatment is in many ways the same. We need to highlight the issues that we should take into consideration when we meet an ethnic minority elderly person with memory problems. 

The most important issue is to remember that there is a human being behind her memory problems or memory disorder: this person has his/ her culture, personality, and wishes that should be taken into consideration.

Such an approach, which respects the person’s background and needs, is what we call cultural sensitivity as a way of work.

The Society for Memory Disorders Expertise in Finland’s ETNIMU-project was a development project that took place from 2015 until 2017with the support of Veikkaus Oy. It sought to increase information about brain health among ethnic minority elderly. The project created materials about brain health, memory, and memory disorders in the native languages of the project’s participant groups: Finnish, Estonian, Russian, Somali, and Roma People. The project also aimed to strengthen the cultural-sensitive skills of social and health care professionals and students.


ETNIMU-activity 2018-2020


ETNIMU-activity developed cultural sensitive memory work in Finland 2015-2020. The aim of ETNIMU activities was to secure that people from ethnic minority backgrounds with dementia get timely and accurate diagnoses.

The MMSE is the memory test most commonly used with people from ethnic minority backgrounds in Finland. The test is well suited to the native populations, but it falls short when used to map the situations of people from diverse ethnic minority backgrounds. To get the necessary information, the test needs to screen also for background information f.ex. about a person's daily life, skills, and social activities. Difficulties in language and insufficient understanding of the cultural specificities pose the biggest challenges to mapping. The social and health care professionals would benefit from an interpreter who can help them perceive the client’s possible memory problems and provide them assistance in memory test situations.

The pilot group of the Memory Interpreter training program has 17 participants of Estonian, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, and Roma backgrounds. All participants are volunteers. The training program consists of a theory part that covers f.ex. general information about dementia, interpreting skills, confidentiality, and GDPR. The training is completed by a practical session at a Memory Clinic. After completing the training, the memory interpreters act independently as interpreters in memory test situations and help the social and health care professionals in their interactions with clients from different ethnic minority backgrounds.

ETNIMU activities have developed a unique training program in Finland that supports culturally sensitive memory work in cooperation with memory clinics, universities, as well as experts working in various fields. The Memory Interpreter training program and the working tools can be adapted to work with different languages and cultural backgrounds and so help to secure timely and accurate diagnosis of dementia.


Developed tools in ETNIMU-activity 2015-2020


See all our previous work and developed tools in Society for Memory Disorders Expertise in Finland, ETNIMU-activity 2015-2020 here:


CULTURAL SENSITIVITY IN MEMORY WORK: Experiences from Finland, 2019




This guide discusses the theories and action models behind ETNIMU (2015-2018) and reflects upon them in the light of ETNIMU’s aims, procedures, and results. It seeks to support, among others, the work of social and health care professionals and anyone who may be working with ethnic minority elderly and the topic of memory. This guide represents the core observations of ETNIMU-project.



Read the Guide here: Cultural Sensitivity in Memory Work: Experiences from Finland,  2019

Society for Memory Disorders Expertise in Finland, ETNIMU activity 2015-2020



Memory Interpreter material, 2020


Memory Interpreter material - is a tool that was developed parallel with the Memory Interpreter training program. This is a new tool, that Memory Interpreter is trained to use


The Memory Interpreter training program includes theory parts, for example, memory disorders and dementia, memory tests and interpreting activities

One part of the material is background information. To get better information, the memory tests need more background information about a person's daily life, skills, social activity, etc. This is the part of the training program, which Memory Interpreter can complete independently.

The form is structured in a way, that the Memory Interpreter can develop trust, and get maximum information to map the onset of memory disease, in a short time. It’s not a direct interpretation. Memory interpreter guides the survey and presents the questions in their own way. Using their knowledge about the training program, their native language, and their own cultural background with the client. 
The questions are translated parallel, so after the Memory Interpreter fills out the form, the Finnish-speaking doctor can see the correct answers and will be able to use that information in the dementia assessment of the client.
Also, there will be a doctor involved in the discussion if there is enough time.


Download The Memory Interpreter material in English, 2020 here

Society for Memory Disorders Expertise in Finland, ETNIMU activity 2015-2020


Brief Guide for the Persons Invited to Memory Test, 2020



The guide is intended for the persons who are invited to the memory test and is given to the client before the test arrives. The purpose of this guide is to help the clients who belong to ethnic minorities and are from different language groups to understand where and why he or she has been invited.
The guide aims to tell the client about the upcoming event. It is written concisely and clearly, what it means when a person is called for a memory test.
The guide supports the persons who are invited to the memory test by increasing their understanding of what will happen in the memory test situation and why.


Download The Brief Guide here.

Society for Memory Disorders Expertise in Finland, ETNIMU activity 2015-2020


Improving brain health!, 2019


Various information on memory and its functioning has been widely published in Finland. This guidebook Improving brain health! covers all the key topics and is easy to read and understand. 


 Dementing illnesses and the deterioration of brain health are not dependent on language, culture, or nationality. This guidebook is addressed to group leaders promoting the mental well-being of immigrants living in Finland and having a different cultural background. It is also meant for aging immigrants, who are interested in improving their brain health and memory-related problems.

Download guidebook Improving brain health! here

Society for Memory Disorders Expertise in Finland, ETNIMU activity 2015-2020




The guidebook Improving brain health! is supported by two booklets; Exercises to Activate the Brain 1 & Exercises to Activate the Brain 2, which are recommended to be used together with this book.

The guidebooks are a tool for group leaders helping to arrange respective activities in their groups.

This tool is published in five languages: Finnish, Estonian, Russian, Somali, and English

Society for Memory Disorders Expertise in Finland, ETNIMU activity 2015-2020

Exercises to activate the brain 1, 2019

This booklet is addressed to group leaders improving the mental well-being of elderly immigrants in Finland. The booklet contains 22 coordination and concentration exercises that support brain health by improving the interaction between the brain and muscles. Because the brain needs activation.

Even a small amount of physical activity and exercising may be critical for the quality of life. Aging impairs the ability to control muscles and movements. With regular exercise, we can slow these changes.

Exercise also improves mental well-being and supports memory. It is good to challenge yourself and to do something you have never tried before. New skills open new connections in the brain. The training of concentration skills promotes the functioning of memory in everyday chores.

An active lifestyle and social relationships are critical for maintaining brain health. Do these exercises in a group or alone at home. By exercising together, you get support from the others, and you may unexpectedly find yourself bursting out laughing, which is the best medicine ever. Learning a new movement is easier when exercising is fun, and when you repeat the movement several times.

The exercises are designed to go from easy to more difficult ones. The difficulty levels may also be increased by using different directions for the movements or including other body parts in the exercise, for example, by combining leg movements with arm movements. Exercises may be done either while sitting down or standing up. Create together with your group new moves and exercises.






Download guidebook Exercises to activate the brain 1 here

Society for Memory Disorders Expertise in Finland, ETNIMU activity 2015-2020


Exercises to activate the brain 2, 2019

This guidebook is addressed to group leaders aiming to improve the mental well-being of ethnic minority elderly in Finland. In this booklet, you find 26 different exercises for brain stimulation. From these exercises, you may create new ones for your group.

Memory training is a new trend in improving mental health. Every one of us can improve how the brain works. There is no good or bad memory. Our memory is working selectively by choosing only things that interest us most. By training perception and concentration, we can store the necessary information in our memory better if it is connected with emotions.

The easiest way to train memory is to focus on what we do, to develop a systematic approach, creativity, and imagination. Memory training is not so much about focusing on memory, but rather learning how to use memory by finding connections between information to be stored and information already known to us. When we see these connections and associations, remembering is easy.

Keeping your -body active guarantees physical health, but memory training has proven necessary and useful too. Memory exercises support and enhance our mental abilities. Although you may do the exercises presented in this booklet on your own, the joy of being together in a group makes you feel good and creates a pleasant feeling of being united with other people.

The exercises are designed to be used primarily for group lessons and co-creating conversations on selected topics, word games, manual activities (such as coloring), and adding new activities. Tasks and physical exercises may be combined to make the lesson even more vivid and versatile.





Download guidebook Exercises to activate the brain 2 here.

Society for Memory Disorders Expertise in Finland, ETNIMU activity 2015-2020


You will find all tools and materials in different languages here:  



In Finnish for Roma people

In Estonian

In Russia

In Somali

In China

In Arabic





COVID-19                                    elderly migrants in Finland


Corona vaccinations divide opinions amongst older migrants in Finland - Nearly half wants a vaccination but many still have doubts, 2021.


Together with The Finnish Consortium of Intercultural Elderly Care, we have published a report - Corona vaccinations divide opinions amongst older migrants in Finland - Nearly half wants a vaccination but many still have doubts.


Click here to download our COVID-19 vaccinations report amongst older migrants in Finland

With the corona pandemic, concerns about the foreign-language speaking older group members arose among organizations that implement activities for them. Employees were concerned about how the group members would cope in unusual circumstances, whether they had received enough information to protect themselves from the coronavirus, and whether the information from authorities had reached the elderly belonging to ethnic and language minorities. These concerns developed into a collaborative study of the foreign-language speaking elderly and their coping in the unusual circumstances caused by the coronavirus in the spring of 2020. How are we doing? -report highlighted the thoughts of elderly people in the early stages of the corona crisis. The report points out that the authorities' information did not reach foreign-language speakers comprehensively enough, and that many older people relied on the help of relatives, friends, or third sector organization workers. A clear wish from the older people was to receive information in their native language and in a way that was accessible for them. For some older people with a foreign background, it is already challenging to apply for services which is due to the lack of accessibility and equality of services. Accessibility of services became a particularly burning issue during the health and well-being affected by the corona crisis, as the older persons belong to a risk group regarding COVID-19. 


Restrictions in society caused by corona were tightened in early 2021 as infection rates increased, even though at the same time corona vaccinations had been started in stages for health care personnel, the oldest age groups, and those belonging to risk groups. The organization workers have continued with remote group activities and providing information for the older group members in their own language throughout the unusual corona year. The discussion in society about the corona situation and corona vaccinations has increased the visibility and discussion of the issue among the participants in group activities as well. The
debate on vaccinations among the elderly varied, on one hand, much information was needed and vaccinations stirred interest and on the other hand, the vaccines and the vaccination process caused suspicion and growing concern for some. The organizations decided to find out the foreign-language speaking older people’s thoughts about the corona vaccinations and whether they were in the need of information and possible help relating the subject. Similarly, as in the spring of 2020, the issue was approached together with the elderly, participating in the activities of the organizations, to clarify the situation.


Translated by Mari Pöllänen, JADE Activity Centre

Multicultural Memory Centre - The Finnish Society for Memory Work, 2021

How are we doing? - report, 2020


Report on the COVID-19 Pandemic's Effects on the Lives of Older Migrants in Finland.

Click here to download our report How are we doing?


Information highways and trails of care. How are older migrants and minorities coping with pandemic situation in Finland? 


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everyone’s day to day life

Older people are mostly affected

NGOs working with older migrants needed to pause group activities

Older people who belong to language and ethnic minorities seem to have fallen behind when we are all surfing the information highways.



Society for Memory Disorders Expertise in Finland, ETNIMU activity 2015-2020