New ‘village’ for dementia patients and caregivers opening

LONDON: A new village concept for dementia residents and their caregivers is set to open next month.

A community center unlike any other in the United States is opening its doors in just a month and a half right here in South Bend.

The Care Connections Center at Milton Village is the first socially inclusive, dementia-focused adult day center in the world.

Long-term care services aren’t a guarantee for everyone, especially now, with a growing aging population.

More and more Hoosiers dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia are turning to home-based care from a family member or close friend.

That’s not an easy job, but The Care Connection Center is designed to provide supportive services for caregivers while also giving people with dementia a place to be themselves.

This is where the Care Connection Center will be opening its doors on Jan. 3rd, just south of the toll road bridge on State Road 933 in South Bend.

Designed with its own town square, movie theatre, Irish pub, and other community staples, the facility will focus on what those dealing with dementia can do, not their restrictions.

“Folks with dementia are no different. They’re really no different than us. Here in the states, we seem to want to treat them in such a different way. They’re normal folks that need a quality of life, and this is where they’re going to get that,” said Alzheimer’s and Dementia Services of Northwest Indiana director Angel Baginske.

This is one of the first steps in a state-wide effort to deinstitutionalize senior care and move toward more age and dementia-friendly communities.

Indiana’s Commission on Aging Chairperson says their goal is to reduce the percentage of people directed toward nursing home care from 62% now to 25% by 2024.

The other 75% will have to rely on home and community-based services.

“We desperately need adult day services for older adults. I’m going to say that again, we desperately need them. We’re going to need more personal care services–homecare services,” said Indiana Commission on Aging Chairperson Dr. Joanne Burke.

Indiana is historically one of the worst states when it comes to caregiver support. This new strategy signals a shift to better equip caregivers to meet the needs of those in their care.

“In this center, a caregiver could come in with their spouse. They can attend programs together without any stigma around dementia. We could have the spouse attend adult day center programming while the caregiver is receiving support, education services, or attending a class on their own,” Baginske said.

Lessons that translate to providing care back at home.

This new facility draws a lot of inspiration from what many know as the Dementia Village in the Netherlands, but instead of operating as a 24/7 nursing home, The Care Connections Center will be more like a community center for people with dementia and their caregivers.

People working there will be a mix of trained employees from the Center for Hospice Care and volunteers, who play the role of ‘villagers’.