1950s Village Takes Patients Back in Time

It’s common for older adults with dementia to have clear memories of their childhood or a period of time when they were young adults while being unable to remember family members’ names or recent events.  That why an Alzheimer’s daycare facility in San Diego is set up like a 1950s village to help give visiting seniors a sense of comfort and ease. 

According to a recent Today Brain Power series segment, the first of its kind respite care facility is intentionally designed to trigger pleasant memories for elderly guests with dementia.   Aides are trained to guide visitors through various stations of the village where there is a movie theater playing classic films, a diner with a jukebox and many more interactive storefronts.

With a fast-growing proportion of the population over the age of 65, the incidence of dementia among seniors is rapidly rising.  According to the American Alzheimer’s Association, 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia and that number is projected to grow to 88 million by 2050 as the baby boomer generation reaches age 65 and beyond.  Overall, about 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s dementia.

The Town Square facility not only gives family caregivers a much-needed break, but the environment also helps calm agitation and anxiety by returning older adults with dementia to a happy time. Experts say that our strongest memories are formed when people are between the ages of 10 and 30; these formative years are usually filled with joyful events from childhood or as young adults entering a career or marrying and starting a family.   

Reminiscence therapy helps dementia patients engage more with hands-on activities that encourage socialization, boost mood and activate the brain.  Familiar music, films, decor and classic cars help recreate a 50s small-town feel that puts visitors instantly at ease.  Clients can spend a full 8 hours with trained caregivers that take small groups through the storefronts at the “village” for a cost of $95, which includes 2 meals.   There’s even a pub where patients can shoot pool, a library with a storyteller and a pet store that provides animal therapy. 

A second phase of the Town Square model is already in development in Maryland by the George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers which has partnered with home health-care specialists Senior Helpers. Franchise sales are also underway.   Learn more by following this link to the Glenner Family Centers website.