How Model Towns Help Those with Alzheimer’s

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerNovember 30, 2016

Model towns are a unique answer to memory care. These towns look like fully functioning towns and town centers, complete with all the amenities of any other town, but are specifically designed to ease the stress and anxiety of people living with an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis.

Learn more about these cities and their impact on caregivers and people with the disease.

Model Towns Strive to Create Safe Environment for People with Alzheimer’s

Model cities and towns are popping up across the globe, hoping to create a safe place for people with Alzheimer’s or a related form of dementia.

The latest model city is in San Diego, California. Called Glenner Town Square, the center will imitate 1950 architectural styles and life. When the 11,000 square foot project is completed, it will be a small and self-contained city with a beauty salon, city hall, diner, and library — all modeled to look as if still in the 1950s.

Right outside of Amsterdam, Hogewey is another example of a model city designed to serve people with dementia. Hogewey provides community spaces, rooms and shops for people with dementia to live comfortably and more independently. Yvonne van Amerongne, co-founder of Hogeway says:

“We have Dutch cultures, Dutch design, Dutch lifestyles; but the concept is to value the person, the individual… to support them to live their life as usual, and you can do that anywhere.”

Using Surroundings to Recall Positive Memories

Known as reminiscence therapy, these model towns hope to bring structure and normalcy to people with Alzheimer’s, who are often confused by their lack of memory. Scott Tarde, CEO of the Glennder Center, says:

“We have so many family caregivers who cannot take their loved ones to the movie theater or to a restaurant because they don’t know what those interactions are going to be like. So we wanted to be able to provide these experiences in a safe environment.”

The hope is that the communities will trigger positive memories for people with the disease. Tare says, “Structure is very important for individuals [with dementia]. If you do not engage them, behaviors can start to escalate in the evening because there wasn’t a lot of mental stimulation during the day.”

Glenner Town Square will also provide adult day care services for people living with Alzheimer’s and is expected to begin construction in 2018.

What do you think about model towns trying to help those with Alzheimer’s? Would you consider using their services for a loved one? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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