1950s-themed senior centers are providing comfort for people with Alzheimer's

One in nine people over the age of 65 have some form of Alzheimer’s

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One in nine people over the age of 65 have some form of Alzheimer’s, and the disease is only becoming more prevalent, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, but some senior day care centers are using 1950s nostalgia to bring comfort to those who have the disease.

Town Square Adult Day Center in Sarasota, Florida, isn't only dedicated to caring for people with Alzheimer’s but also bringing those people back to a familiar time.

"When people have dementia or Alzheimer's, others ignore them. And this is something they can relate to," said Sarasota resident Lynne Keenan.

Keenan was recently diagnosed with a rare condition called white matter disease. Doctors tell her it’s a precursor to Alzheimer's. She attended a grand opening event at Town Square on Wednesday.

There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, but some senior day care centers are using 1950s nostalgia to bring comfort to those who have it.

There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, but some senior day care centers are using 1950s nostalgia to bring comfort to those who have it. (FNC)

Walking through Town Square is like walking through a 1950s Main Street, according to co-owner Michael Finn.  

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The 12,000-square-foot center has a classic theater, diner, classic newsstand and more dedicated to immersing members into the world of the 1950s.

"Back then, it was pure and true," Keenan said, adding that the 1950s theme made her happy.

"We call it reminiscence therapy," said Beth Kallmyer, vice president of care and support for the Alzheimer’s Association.

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The association says people with the disease tend to have better long-term memory than short-term memory, which means the majority of their memories are from their developmental years. So seeing Town Square might bring them to a familiar, happy time.

In this photo on Dec. 3, 2015, Brian Cottle carried a handful of leaves around his house in Pierpont, Mo. Cottle spent four hours carrying leaves from one side of the yard to the other. This obsessive behavior is one of the symptoms of early onset Alzheimer's. 

In this photo on Dec. 3, 2015, Brian Cottle carried a handful of leaves around his house in Pierpont, Mo. Cottle spent four hours carrying leaves from one side of the yard to the other. This obsessive behavior is one of the symptoms of early onset Alzheimer's.  (Kayla Wolf/Missourian via AP)

"And it might bring back some memories of a time you had with your family going to the dime store or whatnot," Kallmyer said.

"There’s amazing memorabilia, pictures of old celebrities, old movie posters in the theater," Finn said.

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Over the coming year, Town Square plans to open locations in Texas, Utah and Nevada, in addition to locations already open in New Jersey and Maryland. 

In this 2019 photo provided by Biogen, a researcher worked on the development of the medication aducanumab in Cambridge, Mass. On Monday, June 7, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration approved aducanumab, the first new drug for Alzheimer’s disease in nearly 20 years.

In this 2019 photo provided by Biogen, a researcher worked on the development of the medication aducanumab in Cambridge, Mass. On Monday, June 7, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration approved aducanumab, the first new drug for Alzheimer’s disease in nearly 20 years. (Biogen via AP)

Although the grand opening party already took place, the Sarasota location will officially open in the next couple of weeks, and Keenan says she’ll be one of the first there to check it out.

"Because it’s our youth," she said.

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The Alzheimer’s Association says exciting treatments are in the pipeline to improve cognition in those with Alzheimer’s. They could be submitted for FDA approval as soon as the next two years.