An Innovative Way to Treat Dementia in Retirees
Retirees and Seniors alike Should Take a Trip Back In Time
Step inside and walk through the Georgian Bay Retirement Home and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back fifty years in time. A brightly-coloured kitchen with an old-fashioned stove and large cookie jars invites residents to come inside and bake or prepare a meal. An old oak desk with a typewriter and black rotary telephone remind one of simpler times. Eyes brighten at the 1947 Dodge where patients can enjoy a make-believe ride as they travel down memory lane.
This facility employs the use of reminiscence therapy as part of the program for those diagnosed with some form of dementia. This type of therapy focuses on recalling old memories, which are often left intact for dementia sufferers. Redesigning a room or facility as a replica of a previous era can help keep the patients more active mentally and even reduce the need for medication.
While the Georgian Bay Retirement Home is a unique facility for Canada, it isn’t the only kind of centre in existence. The first model which forms the basis for new facilities is Hodgewey, which is found in Weesp, Netherlands. It was opened in 2010 and offers a vast historical setting with pubs, shops and other places run by the staff to provide a realistic experience for the residents.
A Simpler Life for Retirees and Seniors
A wide variety of décor provides numerous opportunities for residents to relive the past while encouraging memory retention and physical activity. The Georgian Bay Retirement Home features a nursery with soft dolls and old-fashioned décor. It also offers a beach room with sand and beach balls and even fake grass and an indoor waterfall. A sitting room includes an old-style television for residents to relax and watch or visit.
According to administrator Debi Vance, the facility is groundbreaking. “There are few, if any, models like it in Canada or the U.S.,” she said. With more than 25,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, all designed in retro 50s and 60s, the residents have plenty of room to enjoy an environment reminiscent of their younger days. They can visit a barber shop or grocery store and recall fond memories of those times.
Residents can meet together and share stories inspired by their environment. This therapy helps form a bond between past memories and the present and often provides a boost for self-esteem.
The décor and therapy is just part of the program provided by Georgian Bay Retirement Home. The centre also uses Eden Alternative and Montessori school techniques, which includes massage and other treatment methods. The goal is to treat the whole person and provide comfort and stability. Another aspect of the care received at the facility is the low patient-to-staff ratio. With a ratio of five to one, patients receive more personalized care than in traditional centres.
While there’s currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, new medication can slow the course of the disease. As baby boomers age, the number of cases of dementia is expected to increase to almost 1.5 million in Canada by 2031. New options in care are essential to adequately deal with the difficulties the disease brings and reminiscence therapy is one method which rises to the challenge.