On May 21, I’m scheduled to speak at River’s Edge, New York City’s first and only life plan community (also known as a continuing care retirement community or CCRC). River’s Edge is an innovative community being developed by a not-for-profit organization called RiverSpring Health, which also operates several other senior living and senior healthcare properties in the Bronx.
I’ve visited many life plan communities over the past few years, but I have to confess that I’m especially excited to see this one. River’s Edge will not only have views of the Hudson River and the Palisades, it also will have a sculpture garden with original works of art, a nature trail and Zen garden, and a 6,000-piece art collection on campus with works by the likes of Warhol, Picasso, and Chagall. And it’s only a 20-minute train ride to Manhattan!
Like all CCRCs, River’s Edge will have an emphasis on health and wellness for its residents. Additional amenities will include a juice and coffee bar; yoga studio, fitness trainers, indoor pool, and spa; art studio spaces, lectures, classes, and concerts; and a variety of dining venues from casual to fine dining.
River’s Edge, and its parent organization, RiverSpring Health, put an emphasis on luxury as well as cutting-edge technology. As I was doing my research to prepare for this speaking engagement, I discovered something really fascinating. One of RiverSpring Health’s existing properties—Hebrew Home at Riverdale, a nursing home also in the Bronx—has an innovative program they created for their residents with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia; it’s called reminiscence therapy.
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A new way to evoke recollections from childhood
Because scent and memory are so closely connected, the Hebrew Home has installed a reminiscence therapy olfactory exhibit where residents can enjoy various scents that may be associated with earlier memories. There was an article in The New York Times last year about this groundbreaking technique for triggering memories and one of the Hebrew Home’s themes for their therapeutic exhibit.
Since many of the nursing home’s residents grew up in the Bronx area, cheering for the Yankees, one of the Hebrew Home’s olfactory kiosk themes, called “Scents of the Game,” included the delightful smells found at a ballpark. With the press of a button, residents were able to take in aromas such as freshly cooked hotdogs or buttered popcorn.
Although Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia can cause issues with short-term memory, long-term memories, such as from childhood, can sometimes be stirred with a little encouragement. Recollections of trips to the ballpark to watch the likes of Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio can arouse not only feelings of great happiness for the residents but can also stimulate their brains’ memory function.
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A therapeutic innovation for memory care patients
While there is not yet a cure for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, and the use of sensory therapy like these olfactory kiosks is a fairly new technique, neurologists believe there are tangible benefits for patients by using familiar scents to stir fond memories from earlier years.
By incorporating leading-edge techniques like reminiscence therapy into their array of therapeutic options for memory care patients, it’s no wonder that Daniel Reingold, the CEO of the Hebrew Home’s parent organization, RiverSpring Health, is known for his creative, progressive thinking and leadership for the sake of maximizing older adults’ lives.
As the organization builds out their CCRC, River’s Edge, they continue to seek out and implement new technologies and life enhancement programs to benefit their residents.
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