Last week the Wall St Journal covered the most revolutionary version of Reminiscence therapy- Town Square. Reminiscence therapy is a treatment that uses all the senses — sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound — to help people with dementia remember events, people and places from their past lives, just as Town Square does.
I took a tour of Town Square on Friday while attending the Western Regional Aging Life Conference in San Diego and it was at the same time mind boggling, fabulously fun and a trip back to my childhood in the 50’s.
The man who discovered the beta-amyloid plaques, George Glenner funded reminiscence therapy through Adult Daycare for 3 decades. His reminiscence legacy has exploded into Town Square, this fake 50’s town built for dementia sufferers so they can spend their day where their mind is calmest in their 50’s past.
Built by the San Diego opera the town has a kitchen refrigerator like the one in my house in the early 50’s, a barbershop with Elvis hanging on the wall , a Malt shop called Rosie’s Dinner with jukebox, just like the ones my boyfriend Steve Paul and I played while we ate greasy french fries and mooned over each other in the early 60’s. Rosie’s has now collectible formica tables, with chrome chairs but that is a sturdy replica that seniors are safe in with added chrome arms.
Town Square Rosie’s acts as act as a lunch spot for the 90 participants, spilling out into the patio.
It has a garage with a luscious, shiny black T bird from the early fifties with gleaming chrome, my dream car when I was in Atlantic City High School.
Not only in this open for the last month but they rent it out for corporate events for fifties parties where everyone can dress up like Mad men and women in those divine 50’s dresses that I still lust for. And on top of this Town Square will franchise and its next ideation will appear in Baltimore
I came home hearing Patti Page sing Old Cape Cod , thinking of 1956 when I discovered Elvis, puberty, boys, small breasts, adolescence and wildly danced the jitterbug in Lou Molinari garage with all my friends, my life exploding. I was there again and felt glorious just like the lucky residents of Town Square.