Special Report: Immersive care center for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients opens this month

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — When Dail Slingsby, who was diagnosed with dementia enters the doors of Town Square, he is stepping into a different world that recalls San Diego in the 1950’s.

The trip back in time is an innovative approach to helping people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Town Square in Chula Vista which opens later this month gives those patients an immersive and interactive experience that helps them to recover memories from their past.

Reminiscence therapy helps to prompt recollections from the past when a person’s memories are the strongest. At the facility operated by Glenner Family Centers, there are 14 different storefront locations including a diner, a pub, a City Hall office, a department store, a barber shop and a garage with a 1950’s Thunderbird.

With period furniture, posters and other items, they may look like quaint decoration, but the storefronts have a therapeutic purpose. Participants in groups of five will spend 45 minutes to an hour in each place. With a therapy aide, they can engage in activities geared to their cognitive levels and their interests.

Dail, a former maintenance crew chief who worked on Navy aircraft enjoyed the mini-museum, curated by the San Diego Air & Space Museum. He began to tell us about his days working with drones and seemed to recognize most of the aircraft models on display.

The car buff also brightened when we stopped to look at the Thunderbird, which brought back his memories of repairing and racing cars. Town Square also offer caregivers like Dail’s wife, Marie, a brief respite from her responsibilities.

Marie noted that Dail seems to become happier and more talkative during the visit. Like other senior care centers, there is a charge for participants. It’s $65 for half a day, and $95 for a full day, which amounts to less than $12 dollars an hour.

For families who are affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s hard to put a price on the experience.

“It lifts your spirits,” Marie said.

Although the care center is the first of its kind in the nation, Glenner Family Centers is working with a partner to make franchises available in other cities.

Related Articles