With the long-awaited August opening of a new property in Dublin, Ohio, Sunrise Senior Living is taking strides into uncharted territory for the company: Early-onset memory care.
Sunrise and other leaders in the senior housing sector across the country have been very active in the memory care space, but few specifically cater to early-onset needs.
The introduction of Sunrise’s specially designed program and designated neighborhood for younger residents with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other memory loss has already garnered interest, with one family committed to care at Sunrise of Dublin, Rita Altman, senior vice president of memory care and program services for Sunrise, tells SHN. The goal, she says, is to provide a personalized, age-appropriate environment that helps residents maintain their identities.
“It can be very emotional, when memory is affected in the prime of life,” Altman says. “They need support, encouragement to express their feelings and people they can relate to.”
Of the 80 units available at the 66,000-square-foot Dublin facility, up to 13 are dedicated to those in the early-onset memory care program. Costs to residents are in line with typical memory care, Altman says, and the suites are highly customized to make each resident feel at home and connected with their personalities, in accordance with the program’s overall goal.
While establishing programming for a younger subset of the population might seem an ambitious endeavor, Altman says the developmental level of activities offered is the main difference between typical memory care and what Sunrise has implemented for those afflicted earlier. Knowing that residents in the early-onset memory care program are younger and likely have more energy, for example, they might partake in exercise, dance, yoga or meditation, along with peer and family support groups. And thanks to community service projects and opportunities for cultural engagement, Altman says residents won’t feel secluded from the general public or the rest of the facility, either.
As for implementation of such a program in any of Sunrise’s other communities or future developments, Altman says the company is “very open-minded,” whether that would entail adding to existing facilities or launching the program from the get-go.
“It’s not unlike us to create a part of the building to fit our residents’ needs,” she said. “Whatever the need is, that’s the direction we’ll go.”
Written by Kourtney Liepelt