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A 'Model Town' For Treating Dementia Is Set To Be Replicated In Abandoned Big-Boxes And Strip Malls Around The U.S.

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    Town Center
    One option for dementia patients at Town Square in Chula Vista is a movie theater showing the kind of pictures the patients would have seen in their younger days.

    Senior Helpers, a major provider of in-home senior care services, has launched a nationwide franchise concept called Senior Helpers Town Square. 

    The concept involves the adaptive reuse of older commercial properties being transformed into specialized treatment centers for dementia. The spaces evoke an earlier period in a dementia patient's life. Namely, midcentury America.

    Toward that end, the George G. Glenner Alzheimer's Family Centers created the prototype Town Square in Chula Vista, California, in partnership with the San Diego Opera Scenic Studio. The development, which opened this summer, occupies 9K SF of otherwise unremarkable warehouse space on the town's Main Street.

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    Town Center
    Reminiscence therapy is more than just the sights of the past — it involves sounds and tastes as well.

    Though named Town Square, the development is not a conventional mixed-use development.

    Rather, it is an indoor, simulated urban environment that employs reminiscence therapy — which uses tangible prompts from an individual's past to help elicit more long-term memories, reduce anxiety and improve mood and sleep quality in those with dementia. 

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    Town Center
    The Town Center also evokes current events of the 1950s.

    Each Senior Helpers Town Square location will feature a highly structured, midcentury "town" built around distinctive vignettes that resemble the time period when most participants (now in their 70s and 80s) were young adults, including such re-creations as a 1950s-era diner, movie theater, library and hair salon, all arranged around a central green.

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    Town Center
    Recreation is also important at Town Center (though the pool hall isn't going to be a smoky place).

    Participants could be served hot lunch at an authentic 1950s-style diner, see a black-and-white film at the movie theater, play pool, get their hair styled at the on-site salon or tinker with a 1959 Ford Thunderbird at the service station. 

    Participants are placed in interest groups of five people and rotate through the areas very much like someone rotating classes in high school or college, spending 45 to 50 minutes in each area.

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    Town Center
    What's the '50s without a vintage vehicle to tinker with?

    "The initial response to Senior Helpers Town Square has been overwhelmingly positive, and we hope to have 100 Senior Helpers Town Square locations operating all across the U.S. within the next three years," Senior Helper CEO Peter Ross said. 

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    Town Center
    At Town Center, vintage reading material is also part of the therapy.

    A second location is under construction near Baltimore in a former Rite Aid in White Marsh, Maryland, Citylab reports. Senior Helpers will own that facility, which will open in early 2019. A third location is planned for the Chicago area.

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    Glenner Town Square 1
    If all goes according to plan, Town Square reminiscence therapy will be available nationwide.

    Presumably, future versions of Town Square would evoke later decades, and according to Glenner, its partnership with the San Diego Opera Scenic Studio will enable it to update the areas as time passes.