Experimental 'town' helps dementia patients reconnect with past - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Experimental 'town' helps dementia patients reconnect with past

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A San Diego company has come up with a very unorthodox way of helping dementia patients. It's building an indoor 'town' designed to mimic the 1950's, and they hope it will help patients regain some comforting memories.

Piece by piece, work crews are reconstructing the past, building a literal walk down memory lane for dementia patients. "It's very exciting to see that kind of history come back to life," said Scott Tarde with the George G. Glenner Alzheimer's Family Centers, Inc. 

Tarde helped develop the project called 'Town Square' -- an indoor re-creation of 1950's San Diego. It includes a replica of city hall, a movie theater, medical center and shops. Some structures are recreated with props, others are brought to life with authentic antiques.

The principle behind this recreation is a treatment called 'Reminiscence Therapy.'  Familiar sights and sounds help Alzheimer's patients recall memories, making them less agitated and improving their mood. "The memories that they formed earliest in life are the most resilient.  Their reference point is no longer 2017, their best memories may pick up 20, 30, 40 years ago," said Dr. Dan Sewell with UC San Diego.

Tom Christian says he's seen the benefits of Reminiscence Therapy with his 57-year-old wife grace.  She was diagnosed with dementia three years ago. "When she hears a song from the 70's she remembers, she may not remember the words but she knows she knows it," Christian said. He believes the project will help patients and caregivers alike. "To build memories with the family, good memories, is a very positive aspect of this."

Reminders from the past helping them cope with the future.

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