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New Memory Support Neighborhood coming 2020

Posted on December 12, 2018

In the community dining room of a Wisconsin senior living establishment, Highlands President & CEO Kevin DeAcosta sat down to dinner with four of the community’s residents who had dementia.  Wearing gear that impaired all five senses, Kevin began an unforgettable 24-hour stay in a traditional memory care community. This unconventional experiment was an attempt to gain insight into what daily life is like for seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  “The journey was remarkable, humbling and quite eye-opening,” said Kevin. “My experience greatly impacted the design of our new Memory Support Neighborhood, as well as the programming, services and amenities we will offer.” The Highlands’ Memory Support
Neighborhood is expected to open early 2020. It is part of a long-planned renovation project that will include a comprehensive renovation to The Highlands’ current Personal Care.  The Highlands’ new Memory Support Neighborhood will occupy the entire second level of the existing Personal Care. They will consist of two smaller households, each with a community kitchen, dining room, living room and outdoor courtyard. Each household will boast a different theme and a distinctive look to allow for easier navigation. Connecting the two distinct areas will be shared space featuring activity areas, a spa and a beauty salon. Households will surround an outdoor courtyard. Corridors will include large windows that provide an abundance of natural light and beautiful garden views. Apartments will also offer views of the courtyards, which will feature secure walking paths, areas for activity, water features and other touches designed to appeal to all five senses.  “Views to the outdoors are so important because they entice residents to go outside and enjoy a walk or simply take in the fresh air,”  explains Melissa Pritchard, Senior Vice President of SFCS Architects, the firm that designed the new Memory Support Neighborhood.  “Exposure to natural light also helps to regulate circadian rhythm, which can alleviate sleep disorders, sun downing and seasonal depression.” LED lighting mimicking natural light will also be used throughout the program. The Memory Support Neighborhood will feature smaller living spaces because large environments are overwhelming to people living with memory loss.  Residents can become overwhelmed by large spaces.  Those with dementia are particularly susceptible to confusion and distraction when faced with these kinds of environments,” says  Amy Carpenter, a Regional Vice President at SFCS. “Our goal is to create warm, inviting, welcoming households, so residents feel comfortable, safe and at home.”  The new area will provide easy and supportive wayfinding and orientation, in addition to calming colors and patterns, all of which help mitigate unnecessary stress, creating a positive experience for residents.  Private apartments will feature full bathrooms and adapted kitchenettes, which are uncommon in most memory care communities.  Pritchard says that every inch of the new space will meet best practice standards. “The Highlands’ leadership team was clear in its desire to offer residents the best possible environment based on the latest research and technology,” she says. “Our teams worked closely together to create an entire space that benefits people living with memory loss, helping them live comfortably while empowering them to thrive.”

Memory Support Neighborhood

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