This San Diego Facility Offers Alzheimer’s Patients Comforts From Their Past

The unique daytime care center promotes reminiscence therapy in a nostalgic setting.

This Chula Vista warehouse looks like a film set, but it’s actually the daytime home for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia. A vintage diner, a midcentury kitchen, a makeshift office … these are a few of the settings recreated for the patients to step back in time and reconnect with past memories that may be slipping away.

California Sunday recently featured the facility, called Town Hall, and describes a carefully staged environment where gentle moments from the American experience can be revisited.

“Inside the diner, women in their 70s and 80s and 90s cradled and cooed at baby dolls that were weighted to feel real. In the cinema, participants belted out Christmas carols. Throughout the day, they painted, petted rabbits and rats, exercised on the lawn, and played bingo and bocce ball. It was unclear where participants thought they were. What was clear, however, was that they interacted with one another in ways not always available to those with dementia. Susie, who had been an accountant for several decades, was under the impression that she was employed at Town Square. She organized invoices and helped however she could, passing out lunch, tidying up after others. Jim, a former Navy SEAL, said he was happy to be here among what he sometimes thought was a group from his church. Mary P., a woman who used humor to compensate for her confusion, said she loves San Diego. ‘Look around,’ she said, swinging her arm to gesture at all the storefronts. ‘It has everything.’”

Read more here.

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