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Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia are characterized by some confusing behaviors such as “sundowners” or a sudden display of an alter ego or angry, violent behaviors.

It just seems reasonable that some of this troubling conduct might be the result of a frightening loss of independence and self-determination. Some doctors in the Netherlands thought this might be a possibility as well, and now there is a “town” devoted to housing patients with dementia.

There is no “Dementia Village” in the United States, but Rincon del Rio is going to attempt something similar on a smaller scale. Our Memory Care units are joined and encircled by an enclosed walking track that connects the homes. Once a resident steps “outside” to the track, they discover they are on “Main Street”. They can take a stroll in air-conditioned or heated comfort no matter the weather. Imagine being able to saunter along in the pouring rain without getting wet!

What a relief this could be for restless residents who seem to just “have” to be moving.

memory lane

An artist’s rendition of our version of Memory Lane: a safely-enclosed “Main Street” for our memory-impaired residents who feel the need to roam.

One side of the wide track is all glass so the pleasant landscaping and change of season can be enjoyed. The other side is faux paintings of familiar, comforting objects/structures such as a barber shop, a bus stop, a Laundromat and so on. Some of the “buildings” like the toy store can even be entered for activities. Even the resident’s house is faux painted around the living room windows. From the “street” it looks like a pleasant cottage with familiar, real people sitting inside. A special bracelet opens the right door when the resident wishes to return to the interior.

Because the track is enclosed and secure, carefully monitored and supervised, the resident is free to take a walk on “Main Street” whenever the “wanderlust” calls. Along with extensive programs and scheduling within the residences, this added dimension provides some level of freedom and choice while maintaining the utmost in safety.