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Familiar surroundings help Alzheimer's patients

(CNN) -- While researchers work to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease and dementia, therapists and caregivers are looking for ways to improve the quality of life for patients with these debilitating memory disorders.

A new assisted living facility in New Canaan, Connecticut, is a showcase for environmental therapy used to treat people suffering from Alzheimer's. CNN's Beth Nissen reports (February 7)

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One of the most promising treatments is "environmental therapy." The idea is to put patients in a familiar setting that will orient and engage them, and perhaps evoke long-term memories.

"Alzheimer's disease causes people to lose recent memory, yet they retain distant memory," says Jeremy Vickers, executive director of The Village-Waveny Care Center, an environmental therapy assisted living facility in New Canaan, Connecticut.

The main living areas of The Village are designed to look like a small-town Main Street in the 1950s -- a time when most of the patients were in the prime of life. Dying memories may be sparked by the site of a general store, or a striped barber pole.

CNN's Beth Nissen tours the facility.


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