Vintage approach to village dementia therapy
TOWN Square in California is a unique and quirky concept for the delivery reminiscence therapy for people with dementia.
Developed by the team at the George G. Glenner Alzheimer's Family Centers in Chula Vista and led by its CEO Scott Tarde, they have opened in late 2018 Town Square which is an old-time interactive and stimulating indoor urban environment reflective of the early 1960s.
Reminiscence therapy has been around since the 60s. "It says people make their strongest memories between the ages of 10 and 30," Mr Tarde said.
"If we look at the older people we serve in our organisation, they are typically in their early 80s.
"If you look at the time they made their strongest memories it would have been in the 1950s and 1960s."
"In the county of San Diego there are 85,000 people with Alzheimer's," he added.
With the help of the San Diego Opera's scenic studio, the Town Square was constructed across an area of about 836sqm. Over time the scenic company will help to remodel the site and music to reflect the change in generations using the centre.
The Town Square comprises 11 vintage stores, fully fitted out. There's the diner with a 50s jukebox, the City Hall and the library, a pet shop, park, clinic, department store, garage, news stand, museum and even a movie theatre.
With the help of onsite carers working at the respite centre, at any one time each weekday, up to 45 people with dementia spend a day immersed in structured, tactile experiences, in groups of five, going from rotating through 45-50 minute group activities in each of the stores to eating an old-fashioned meal in the diner.
"If you think about it at a deeper level, these are spaces that are typically cut-off to people who have dementia," Mr Tarde said.
The experiences are designed to create dignity and purpose for the visitors, helping ultimately to reduce their agitation, improving their mood and sleep quality.
"We're not trying to fool anybody it's 1953 within Town Square, but we are trying to create an experience that is consistent with where their strongest memories are," he added.
School class groups have also visited Town Square to learn about what life was like for their grandparents. "The teachers have then been getting them to design a town square for what it would like when they are in their 80s," Mr Tarde said.
The Town Square concept is in the process of being franchised internationally by Senior Helpers.