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Dementia day care center helps families cope with caregiving

Millions of senior citizens in America are living with dementia, with the heavy burden of caregiving often left to family members. But a new adult day care center for those with dementia, called Town Square, may serve as a model for helping families cope with the costs and stresses that can come along with caregiving. Special correspondent Karla Murthy reports from San Diego.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    There are 5.8 million Americans living with Dementia: an umbrella term that includes the most common type, Alzheimer's disease. Most are over the age of 65, but approximately 200,000 people have an early onset form of the disease — some even in their 40's. In those early stages, it's usually family members who become the caregivers. And in San Diego there's a new kind of facility set up specifically to help. NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Karla Murthy has our story. It's part of our new series: Rethinking Lifespan.

  • Kimberly King:

    Now there is a good question for you. Do you remember who this is?

  • Jacki Taylor-Dwyer:

    No. I do, but I don't.

  • Kimberly King:

    This is your brother.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Looking through family photos, Jacki Taylor-Dwyer might as well be seeing the faces of strangers. She still recognizes her daughter, Kimberly King.

  • Jacki Taylor-Dwyer:

    What's his name?

  • Karla Murthy:

    But she struggles to remember her two sons who she sees less often.

  • Kimberly King:

    That one's Kevin.

  • Jacki Taylor-Dwyer:

    Oh I didn't know that.

  • Kimberly King:

    Yes. That's your first born.

  • Jacki Taylor-Dwyer:

    Really? I didn't know that.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Seventy seven-year-old Taylor-Dwyer has Alzheimer's Disease, an irreversible brain disorder that slowly destroys memory, thinking skills and eventually, the ability to carry out the most simple tasks. Her mother's diagnosis was devastating for King.

  • Kimberly King:

    My mom has always been very upbeat. And I will say it was kind of obnoxious because waking up on a school day when we were younger. She would come in and she'd say, "Good morning, good morning!!!!" and you'd be like I'm so sleepy. Please get out of my face. You are too hyper for me right now. But she was really happy-go-lucky and pleasant to be around.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Taylor-Dwyer was once a radio and TV host. She performed in musical theater, was an active volunteer and a mother of three. She loved to travel. But about six years ago friends noticed she was having trouble finding words, remembering names. Kimberly King, who has her own family and works full time, now had to find resources to help supervise her mom. That involved everything from hiring companions to watch her during the day, to King herself spending the night with her, and she has installed cameras in the house to check in remotely.

  • Kimberly King:

    You know, even when I leave for the day and somebody else is coming in my mom doesn't want me to go so that's a heavy burden on me. Because my mom will forget. My mom won't remember that she was a little upset with me when I was leaving, but I will. I'll remember that.

  • Jacki Taylor-Dwyer:

    Where are you going?

  • Kimberly King:

    I'll be right back. Go with Bella.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Then last year a friend told King about a new facility nearby that has helped make life easier. It's called Town Square. It's an adult 'daycare' center that looks more like a village set up specifically for people with the early stages of dementia.

  • Kimberly King:

    My mom has a place to go. She's entertained. She has no idea what, what it really truly is. Which is, it is a day care center but it's, you know, it's disguised as Disneyland.

  • Karla Murthy:

    There's more than a dozen store fronts including a diner, a barber shop, and a store with clothes and jewelry. 9,000 square feet, all designed to look like a small 1950's town.

  • Karla Murthy:

    What's the reaction from people who are first coming here, when they first walk in the door.

  • Scott Tarde:

    I think what we've typically seen is it just kind of takes them back a little bit when they walk through the door. They're just not expecting, I think, kind of the scale.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Scott Tarde is the CEO of the Glenner Family Centers, a non-profit which provides adult day care and support services to families affected by Alzheimer's in California. He says, Town Square is Glenner's newest day care center and is the first of its kind in the nation, a fully immersive environment based on a relatively new approach, referred to in medical literature as "reminiscence therapy."

  • Scott Tarde:

    Telephone booth here.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Does it work?

  • Scott Tarde:

    It does. It rings out to the front desk.

  • Karla Murthy:

    The idea is that even though people with dementia have lost their short term memory they do often remember things from years back, so they will feel more at ease in old-time settings like this. Sights and sounds from their past.

  • Scott Tarde:

    Even things like having "I Love Lucy" on the television.

  • Staff:

    Do you need water?

  • Karla Murthy:

    According to Tarde, Town Square, whose staff includes a specially trained social worker and registered nurse, offers services that can be used as a model for care. In fact, his group has signed an agreement with a for-profit company to franchise the Town Square model across the country.

  • Scott Tarde:

    We group our participants in small groups. We create this experience where participants rotate through the storefronts and they spend time in probably 5 or 6 storefronts out of the 14 storefronts in the day. It gives a variety. They can combine and mix based on activities, interests, based on cognitive functioning.

  • Karla Murthy:

    They are greeting cards that you made?

  • Karla Murthy:

    Taylor-Dwyer especially likes arts and crafts. She makes cards that are on display In the Town Square department store.

  • Karla Murthy:

    And are they for sale?

  • Jacki Taylor-Dwyer:

    Well it depends. You can get three, four, right in there. Then you can see that through. And then you can also do that and you can go down, la,la, la and come back up again.

  • Kimberly King:

    She's declining. They call it the long goodbye. The best thing about the Glenner Town Square is that, you know, they have her. And it's secure and I feel at ease.

  • Katie Croskrey:

    It's a scary disease. It's a disease that at this point doesn't have a cure.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Katie Croskrey is a director of the San Diego chapter of the nonprofit Alzheimer's Association. She says the country needs more programs like Town Square, which not only help dementia patients but also support their caregivers. By the year 2050, she says it's estimated the number of Americans with dementia will more than double to 14 million, putting increasing stress on the healthcare system and those who take care of them.

  • Katie Croskrey:

    Caregiving can be a long journey. Some people can provide care for 10 plus years for somebody that's living with dementia. I think for family caregivers, the hardest part is you're remembering your family member as they were. And here's a person that's changing right before your eyes. And that can sometimes be even harder for a family caregiver as opposed to someone who's care giving that didn't know that person before.

  • Mary Patterson:

    He's just a darn nice guy!

  • Karla Murthy:

    Ever since 88-year old Mary Patterson was diagnosed with Alzheimer's five years ago, her daughter Tanya Carr has helped look after her. But working full-time, Carr admits, most of the caregiving burden fell on her 82-year old father at home. Without Town Square, she says, their lives would be a lot more difficult.

  • Tanya Carr:

    My dad probably would have had a heart attack by now I'm not kidding because at least he can look forward to days where he has some time to do what he needs to do. We probably would have called, had to call somebody in to help and it would have been a lot more expensive.

  • Person:

    Hi Mary.

  • Mary Patterson:

    Hello.

  • Karla Murthy:

    In fact, the cost at Town Square, $95 for eight-hours, is less than the average cost of in-home care.

  • Mary Patterson:

    Are you trying to get away from me?

  • Karla Murthy:

    And the setting seems to appeal to her mom who had appeared to be depressed before coming to Town Square.

  • Tanya Carr:

    Even when she can't remember what she's done day to day she knows she has fun here. Do you have fun here?

  • Mary Patterson:

    Oh yeah.

  • Tanya Carr:

    The goal is to lessen her anxiety. Not have depression, but also help us keep our sanity. So that's what, that's what Town Square has done for us.

  • Mary Patterson:

    And she's my baby.

  • Tanya Carr:

    And I'm her baby. Yes I am.

  • Mary Patterson:

    My friend, my baby.

  • Tanya Carr:

    We should probably get home and check on dad.

  • Mary Patterson:

    Yes.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Town Square's services and hours are limited though. Basically 9 to 5. Carr says it's just a matter of months before her mother will need 24-hour care.

  • Kimberly King:

    Do you know what it says?

  • Jacki Taylor-Dwyer:

    No.

  • Kimberly King:

    I love you beyond measure.

  • Jacki Taylor-Dwyer:

    Oh!

  • Kimberly King:

    Isn't that cute.

  • Karla Murthy:

    Jacki Taylor-Dwyer's Alzheimer's has progressed to the point that she recently moved in with her daughter. But Kimberly King knows her mom will likely lose the ability to dress, walk, even swallow and eventually need to be placed in a nursing home.

  • Kimberly King:

    To put my mom into a retirement home, which is long-term memory care, it starts off at 10-thousand dollars a month and who has that?

  • Karla Murthy:

    As she figures out her next steps, King will do what she can to keep her mom calm, safe, and happy.

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