Alzheimer’s and Dementia affect 47 million people worldwide and that number is expected to explode to 75 million by 2030.
The cost of caring for patients is in the hundreds of billions not to mention the stress on families to try and care for their loved ones.
But a new treatment center that’s just opening near San Diego, California may help both patients and families deal with the devastating disease in a very unique way.
As CGTN’s May Lee reports, this is just the beginning for a project that plans to go global.
The time was circa 1950s, when Thunderbirds cruised the streets, diners served up 25 cent hot dogs and movie theaters still played black and white films.
That was then, and it still is here at Glenner Town Square. It’s a full scale, functional replica of a typical town from the 1950s.
But this isn’t a Hollywood set. Town Square is the first immersive treatment center of its kind for Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients using reminiscence therapy,a treatment that taps into long term memory, which often stays very sharp unlike short term memory.
That’s the case for Sonia Bland’s mother who has struggled with Alzheimer’s for nearly seven years.
“Being with mom everyday I notice that long term memory is very sharp,” Sonia says. So this is going to be awesome, awesome. Her short term memory is not there anymore so this is going to make a huge difference in mom’s life and in our lives.”
Town Square is the brainchild of the Glenner Center, which has used reminiscence therapy for 35 years at its daycare centers in San Diego.
With the opening of this facility with everything from a local pub to a barber shop to a clothing boutique, seeing what reminiscence therapy is on such a grand scale is believing.
Lisa Tyburski, Director of Business Development at Glenner Center says “We had to get this one up and running because it’s one thing to talk about it, but people need to see it and they really needed to understand what we were talking about. So we are planning on building other ones in San Diego and across the country.”
And across the globe. Glenner, a non-profit organization, has partnered with Senior Helpers, a for profit business that provides senior care in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Together, they plan to franchise Town Square and take it worldwide.
Peter Ross, CEO and Co-founder of Senior Helpers says “We do think this model plays well in any country and especially when you’re looking at the Asian market you have 350 million seniors in China. That’s more than the total population of the U.S. So I’ve had conversations on the home care side in China. I think this is an even better model to bring to China, to Japan, to any part of the Asian marketplace, along with the rest of the world.”
Alzheimer’s is the fastest growing major disease in China with nearly 10 million known sufferers and every year almost one million are diagnosed.
So the idea that town square could spread throughout China is a very realistic and it could provide badly needed care for those who need it most.
PHOTO GALLERY: 1950’s replica town uses reminiscence therapy for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients
Photos/May Lee CGTN