For seniors suffering with dementia, the world can be a confusing and scary place. It can also be lonely and devoid of activity. However, there is a new dementia approach on the horizon. It’s called reminiscence therapy – a new kind of innovative adult daycare that aims to soothe dementia patients’ minds and stimulate their brains.

According to Scott Tarde, CEO of George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Centers, “Independent research shows that people make their strongest memories between about the ages of 10 to 30. And if you can take people back to a time when they literally have the ability to be surrounded by prompts from their past, that’s shown to reduce agitation, improve mood and improve sleep quality.”

Scott Tarde runs dementia daycares in the San Diego, and everything in it is designed to trigger the long-term memories of dementia patients. These daycares are set up to look like a 1950’s village square. The dementia daycare has everything from a vintage clothing store, where they can try on clothes, to an old-school gas station, where they can sit inside a ’50s Thunderbird. There’s also a full-service diner and a movie theater playing classic films.

The organizers are careful to not try to fool patients into thinking it’s now actually the 1950s. Trained aides take care of small groups of dementia patients as they experience 14 activity centers set up as storefronts. These activity centers promote socialization and engagement in a situation where their memories are their strongest. The nostalgic environments feel familiar to them and is found to help reduce confusion and agitation.

Reminiscence therapy is showing great success with dementia patients. These types of daycares aren’t usually covered by insurance, so if you have a loved one with dementia, you can try reminiscence therapy at home and play their favorite old songs, look at old family photos, watch movies from their youth and then talk about their memories.

For more details, check out this video: