San Diego Alzheimer's Day Care Center Recreates 1950s To Stimulate Brains
Dozens of Alzheimer’s patients from all walks of life journeyed together down memory lane Wednesday at Glenner Town Square, a miniature village replicating the 1950s.
The former executives, teachers and business owners, many in their 80s, were encourage to revive their sealed away recollections of the bygone era through the sights and sounds from when they were in their teens and 20s.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a brutal disease. What we’re trying to do here is create an experience that’s consistent with where their strongest memories are,” said Scott Tarde, CEO of the nonprofit George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers and creator of the newly opened town, set inside a Chula Vista warehouse.
“It’s really designed to be like a functioning city,” Tarde said. “We have 10,000 square feet, 24-foot ceilings, natural skylights throughout."
With a shared gaze in their eyes, seniors played games in the town library, painted pictures in the little blue house and sang songs together in the old-fashioned theater.
“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” some belted out enthusiastically, while others sat quietly taking it all in.
Inside the town clinic, women cradled and fed baby dolls. At the pub, some men played pool and shot hoops. One woman perused old comic books and newspapers at the newsstand, with headlines reading “Roosevelt Dies” and "Plot Against Hitler Disclosed.”
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease marked by memory loss, especially short-term impairment. Their minds are often trapped decades in the past.
Tarde said the new adult day care center is working to help people trigger their long-term memories to improve their quality of life. Each day, trained caregivers guide small groups through a dozen colorful and interactive storefronts and stations.
“They spend about 45 minutes at each store front receiving customized programming based on someone’s likes, interest levels, cognitive functioning,” he explained.
Each area is designed with 1950s artifacts — rotary dial phones, old fashioned typewriters, jukeboxes, newspapers from back in the day — they are all prompts for social engagement. The concept is called reminiscence therapy, Tarde said.
“Reminiscence therapy says people make their strongest memories between the ages of 10 and 30,” Tarde said. “That’s a lot of time when people make their first memories, so graduating high school, graduating college, marriage, children, first job.”
Tarde, who has worked with Alzheimer’s patients for two decades, said triggering memories helps reduce anxiety and promotes well being. He said the village also gives people a sense of purpose.
“If they used to work in an office, we have an office. If they used to visit a diner, we have a diner. If they liked to go to the library and enjoy books, we have a library,” he said.
Participants can tinker with an old Ford Thunderbird at the gas station, where a gallon costs 22 cents. They can play with animatronic dogs and cats at the pet store. Lunch is served at Rosie’s diner with their favorite oldies playing softly from a jukebox.
While Alzheimer’s patients were remembering their past, researchers converged at the University of San Diego to focus on the present.
“There are more than 5.7 million people living with Alzheimer’s today,” said Heather Snyder, national senior director of scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association. “More than 50 million people providing support for someone living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.”
Snyder was part of a panel that provided an overview to the public on Wednesday night of the latest developments in national and local Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research.
Snyder said more than 200 clinical trials are underway in the search for an Alzheimer’s treatment.
“When we look across that entire pipeline we see drugs for instance, or experimental drugs for instance that are targeting the beta amyloid protein — this is one of the hallmark brain changes we see in Alzheimer’s — the clumps of the beta amyloid," Snyder said. "We see drugs that are targeting the tau protein, the other hallmark brain change that we see in Alzheimer’s, and saying, 'can we change, can we remove the tau using our immune system,' for instance.”
While there’s promise, Snyder said there is currently no cure, and no therapy to slow the progression.
“But where we are now is our understanding that the biology is changing a decade or more before an individual’s memory is changed or affected,” Snyder said. “That gives us an opportunity to think about — can we intervene at that earlier time point and change the trajectory.”
Snyder said one encouraging new study involving 9,000 people showed that aggressively lowering systolic blood pressure to 120 could significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
“Nineteen percent less people developed mild cognitive impairment and 15 percent less people developed mild cognitive impairment and dementia,” she said.
For now, the disease is the third leading cause of death in San Diego, where 84,000 people have the mind-robbing disease. By the year 2030, the number of people in the county diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia is expected to soar 36 percent.
At Glenner Town Square, Tarde is hoping to make the disease more tolerable for patients and their families. He said the region is not prepared for the future.
“We have to be ready for this influx because we have all these baby boomers coming through that are at some point going to need services,” Tarde said. “And the greatest predictor of Alzheimer’s disease is age.”
Tarde is joining with in-home senior care provider Senior Helpers to open 200 more Glenner Town Square villages across the country over the next five years, including a half-dozen more in San Diego County. An 8-hour visit costs $95. Participants must be pre-assessed and enrolled to attend.
There's a lot of tension in San Diego this week on Alzheimer's disease. Hey PBS health reporter Susan Murphy tells us a memory village open for people suffering from the neurological disorder. Meanwhile some top researchers gathered here to discuss new findings. It's the 1950s all over again in a miniature village built inside a warehouse in Chula Vista. Dozens of people with Alzheimer's many in their 80s are being encouraged to revive their memories of the bygone era. A Glenarm Townsquare. So what we're trying to do here is create an experience that consistent with where their strongest memories are. Scott tarty is creator of the town and CEO of the nonprofit George G. Glenn are all Simers family centers really designed to be. Like a functioning city. Right and here we have 10000 square feet 24 foot sailing. People with Alzheimer's suffer from a degenerative disease marked by memory loss especially short term impairment. Their minds are often trapped decades in the past. The new adult daycare center is working to help people regain long term memories to improve their quality of life. Can you make. Sure. Trained caregivers guide small groups through a dozen colorful and interactive storefronts and stations spend about 45 or 50 minutes in each store from receiving customized programming based on somebody whose likes and stress levels cognitive functioning including City Hall a vintage store movie theater and a little blue house that looks like grandma's kitchen. And we do all kinds of activities there including playing cards listening to music. Each area is designed with 1950s artifacts to reflect their lives when they were in their teens or 20s. Rotary dial phones old fashioned typewriters newspapers from back in the day they're all prompts for social engagement tardies says the village is designed around a concept called Reminiscence therapy. A lot of times people make their first memories if you will. So graduating high school graduating college marriage children tarty who has worked with Alzheimer's patients for two decades says triggering memories helps reduce anxiety. He says the village also gives people a sense of purpose that they used to work in an office. We have an office they used to visit a diner. We have a diner. Participants can tinker with an old Ford at the gas station they can hold baby dolls at the clinic play pool or shoot hoops at the pub lunches served at Ruby's Diner with their favorite oldies playing from a jukebox. While the Alzheimer's patients are remembering the past researchers have converged in San Diego to focus on the present. Heather Snyder is national senior director of scientific operations at the Alzheimer's Association. There are over five point seven million Americans living with Alzheimer's today. More than 15 million people that are providing care and support for someone living with Alzheimer's or dementia. In San Diego County 84000 people have Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Snyder says more than 200 clinical trials are underway in the search for an Alzheimer's treatment. When we look across that entire pipeline we see drugs for instance or experimental drugs for instance that are targeting the beta amyloid protein. This is one of the Hallmark brain changes that we see in Alzheimer's. The clumps of the beta amyloid protein while there's promise Snyder says there's currently no cure and no therapy to slow the progression or we are now is our understanding that the biology is changing a decade or more before an individual's memories are changed or affected. That gives us an opportunity to think about can we intervene about earlier time point and change the trajectory Snyder says. One encouraging new study involving 9000 people shows that aggressively lowering systolic blood pressure to 120 could significantly reduce the risk of the disease. Actually 19 percent less people develop mild cognitive impairment and 15 percent less people develop mild cognitive impairment and dementia. For now the disease is the third leading cause of death in San Diego by the year 2030. The number of people in the county diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia is expected to soar 36 percent. At Glennard Townsquare. Scott tarty is hoping to make the disease more tolerable for patients and their families. He says the region is not prepared for the future. We have to be ready for this influx because you have all these baby boomers coming through that are going to at some point need services and the greatest predictor of Alzheimer's disease is age. Susan Murphy KPP US news.