At least 5.7 million Americans are estimated to be living with Alzheimer’s, and only 200,000 of those patients are younger than 65. The United States keeps getting older as the baby boomer generation ages, and the number of Alzheimer’s patients is expected to rise to nearly 14 million by 2050.
When they are not at home with a caregiver, many patients spend time at day centres, where they can participate in activities and interact with other people. A nonprofit that runs these centres, the George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Care Centres, has begun creating faux towns resembling the 1950s and 1960s to remind dementia patients of when they were young.
In August, the San Diego-based nonprofit opened the first so-called Town Square in Chula Vista, just outside the city’s downtown area. Town Square designs reflect a technique known as reminiscence therapy, which is used in clinical settings to help those with dementia recall decades-old memories. According to The Atlantic, studies show that such therapy helps improve patients’ quality of life and heightens their cognitive function.
Earlier this year, the Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Care Centres partnered with elder care franchise Senior Helpers to expand their operation.
“Adult day care gives people a chance to continue to live their life independently in their own home,” Peter Ross, the CEO of Senior Helpers, told Business Insider. “It is an opportunity to have social interaction when they want it during the week at the Town Square.”
Take a look at the Chula Vista Town Square below.
Ross said the Chula Vista location consisted of half a city hall and a 1959 Ford Thunderbird when he visited. Now, about 55 seniors visit the Town Square each day.
Senior Helpers signed an agreement with the Glenner nonprofit in March, Ross said, and they are working on opening a second Town Square in the Baltimore area.
Moving forward, Ross said, each Town Square will be able to hold about 105 seniors for daily programming. Ross said he hopes to expand the partnership “aggressively,” adding Senior Helpers has more than 300 locations around the US.
Each Town Square has several staff members, including a center director, an enrollment director, an activities director, a staff member who can give health guidance and dispense medication, and a receptionist.
Each location will include one caregiver for every seven senior participants, or about 15 caregivers in a full Town Square.
Ross said the partners have also started offering franchises to candidates across the US. The first franchise is set to open in the Chicago area.
Ross said Town Squares are an affordable option relative to hourly home care, and participants do not have to pay privately. Town Squares accept long-term care insurance as well as federal and state reimbursements through Medicaid and Veterans Affairs benefits.
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