Plymouth Harbor recently participated in the State of Talent Conference hosted by CareerSource Suncoast in partnership with the Patterson Foundation. This is the first year for the State of Talent Conference, which was held on Friday, May 19th, at the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus.

The conference was aimed at Human Resources and Operations Executives, and its purpose was to bring together employers from Sarasota and Manatee counties who wish to learn how better to recruit, train, and retain talent.

Plymouth Harbor was the sponsor for the Age-Friendly Workplace Panel discussion. Harry Hobson, our President/CEO, was joined on the panel by Kathy Black, Ph.D. (gerontologist and professor at USF), and Mike Jeffries (owner and operator of Mader Electric, Inc.). Laurey Strkyer of the Patterson Foundation moderated the discussion. The topics discussed included demographics of the current workforce, how companies like Plymouth Harbor and Mader Electric recruit and retain employees of all ages, and some of the highlights of each generation.

Harry Hobson kicked off the session by introducing Plymouth Harbor, as an employment leader in Sarasota for over 50 years. He cited the challenges we face in recruiting staff for the new Northwest Garden Building, especially our new level of care in the memory care residence, with the increasing demand in Sarasota for hospitality talent. He also stated the importance of Plymouth Harbor and other Life Plan Communities in Sarasota to make themselves known as an industry where individuals can build their careers in nearly every field, such as accounting, marketing, culinary, healthcare, trades, philanthropy, and hospitality.

“At a recent meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, it was surprising for us to learn that when naming industries that exist in our state, the Life Plan Community industry was not even recognized,” said Harry. “It was an eye-opener to us and we decided to take some action and get involved to introduce our industry to the budding and existing workforce.”

Other organizations participating in the sessions included Department of Economic Opportunity, Dr. Rick Goodman, the Herald-Tribune, Intern Bridge, Game On Nation, FCCI Insurance, PGT Industries, Design Concepts Marine Concepts, and Anna Maria Oyster Bar. The conference was sold out, with approximately 150 participants.

 

In recent months, Plymouth Harbor engaged in a competitive graduate student project with architectural students from the University of Florida’s CityLab-Sarasota campus. We worked with six students enrolled in a master’s seminar under the instruction of adjunct professor and celebrated local architect, Guy Peterson.

Through this partnership, the major project for the seminar was decided to be the porte cochère on the ground level entrance of our new Northwest Garden Building. As the main point of entry to the new building, the porte cochère’s design served as an important, hands-on project for the students. The students worked in pairs, forming three teams. From there, each team was given a period of three months to outline their design and a stipend of $1,000 for any materials needed for their involvement in the project.

Guy Peterson, George McGonagill (Plymouth Harbor’s Vice President of Facilities), and Lorraine Enwright (THW Architects), worked with the students to identify the scope of the project, budget, structural parameters, and a materials list that was consistent with that of the building. Becky Pazkowski (Plymouth Harbor’s Senior Vice President of Philanthropy) served as Program Advisor, while George served in the role of Construction Advisor.

At the completion of the project, students were asked to present their designs for consideration for a first, second, or third prize. The first place pair received a $5,000 prize, second received $3,000, and third received $1,000, each to be split between the two team members. The first place award was supported by residents Marie and Tom Belcher, and the second and third place awards were supported by resident Charles Gehrie.

On Friday, May 5, the students presented their respective projects to Plymouth Harbor’s selection committee, and were called back to Plymouth Harbor on Monday, May 8, for the award announcements.

Each design was impressive, and one stood out among the rest. Offering a sophisticated, modern design, the first place winner met the requirements for the scope of the project above all others (rendering pictured on page 1. Please note: this is only a rendering, not an actual depiction of the final product). In the coming months, we will incorporate much of this design into the final plans for the Northwest Garden.

Plymouth Harbor was proud to collaborate with these talented students, four of whom are now graduates with their Master of Architecture degrees.

Below are the student teams, by prize:

1st Prize: Gabriella Ebbesson & Miranda Crowe
2nd Prize: Elena Nonino & Olivia Ellsworth
3rd Prize: Brittany Perez & Francia Salazar

 
 

True of most scientists, Charles Miller knew what he wanted to do from a young age. “It goes back to when I was a boy, wiring light bulbs with my father and putting extension cords in the house,” he remembers. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Charles didn’t experience the glamour most associate with the city. “It’s like any other city – it has the persona of Hollywood over it, but underneath there’s a city of ordinary people doing ordinary things.”

Far from ordinary, Charles went on to earn both his B.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology. In his senior year of college in 1952, Charles met his first wife. “I met her as I met both of my wives – on the telephone,” he laughs. His friend was on the phone with a girl, Anne-Marie, and handed it to Charles. They ended up hitting it off, Charles invited her to a party, and the rest was history when they married a year and a half later.

In his last semester of graduate school, Charles’ professor asked if he would be interested in a one-year teaching position at Amherst College. Charles accepted, and when his term came to a close, he ended up enjoying the experience so much that he looked for a similar opportunity nearby. He landed at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he stayed for the next 35 years. His wife, who was also a teacher, taught education at Central Connecticut State University. Charles and his wife had two daughters — and it comes as no surprise that their daughters are both teachers today.

In contrast, Cynthia Lichtenstein was born and raised on the East Coast in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She studied at Radcliffe College of Harvard University in Massachusetts and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Russian History and Literature. “With my degree, my choices were to get a Ph.D. and teach, or to work for the government.”

During her final semester of college in 1955, Cynthia decided to take the exam to work for the U.S. State Department. She did well enough that she was given an oral exam, but that was as far as she would get. “One of the examiners was kind enough to say, ‘Don’t feel badly when you do not pass this. We do not take women,’” she remembers. Despite the setback, Cynthia was not discouraged. She had a friend who was studying at Harvard Law School, and when she began arguing a case with him, he suggested that she go to law school. Without too much consideration, she took the LSAT, scored in the top percentile, and applied.

Cynthia’s parents, however, did not want her to attend law school. Instead, they gave her a trip to Paris for graduation, and when she returned, the only job she could find was as a secretary. “I was dreadful at it,” she laughs. “I couldn’t do two things at once. But at the time, it wasn’t usual for young women to go to law school.” After she was let go from her job as a secretary, Cynthia followed her instincts, borrowed the money from an uncle, and attended Yale Law School.
 
Cynthia met her first husband when in Paris, and after graduation from Yale, went to work as an associate at a Wall Street firm. She worked full-time for two years before they began their family. While pregnant with her first child, Cynthia began a two-year program through the Ford Foundation, which was offering scholarships to study civil law for one year at the University of Chicago and a second year internship abroad. After Chicago, Cynthia’s husband got a job at the Economist in London, while she began her internship at the European Economic Community (EEC) in Brussels, where she worked on EEC African projects.

In 1963, Cynthia returned part-time to her firm in New York. But in 1971, she decided to explore a different career path. By this time, she was raising three children, her husband was in Boston working at MIT, and because she couldn’t commit to working full-time, her firm would not make her a partner. A friend recommended her for a teaching position at Boston College Law School, and she accepted — as their second female professor.

While Cynthia had a newfound love for teaching, she had her work cut out for her with 140 students in one class and 90 in another. Balancing work and home life, she taught corporate finance (including securities law) and contracts. She was also the second in the country to teach a course in international economic law at a law school. After five years in Boston, Cynthia and her husband divorced.

In 1984, Cynthia met Charles — who had been widowed two years before — over the phone. A mutual friend set them up, and Cynthia invited Charles to Boston for dinner. When he showed up with a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine, Cynthia fell in love. A year and a half later they were married.

After several years of a commuter marriage, Cynthia convinced Charles to take early retirement. He taught half the year for five years and then made the move. Cynthia retired from Boston College in 2001, but worked as a visiting professor at George Washington University Law School for four falls after that. The couple spent winters on their boat in Fort Myers, before coming to Sarasota and looking into Plymouth Harbor at the suggestion of friends.

Today, Charles and Cynthia spend half their time here and the other half at their home in Stonington, Connecticut. In his spare time, Charles reads with the Shakespeare Group and enjoys the Physics Club he co-founded nearly 10 years ago. Cynthia keeps busy with several law organizations. She is a panelist for NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) Chapter 19, and is occasionally appointed to hear cases. Up until the last year, she was a Vice Chair of the Executive Council of the International Law Association, which meets every six months in London.

Additionally, Cynthia worked with the International Law Students Association, which puts on the annual Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. Today, she serves as a coach for Booker High School’s mock trial and appellate cases. This program works with students interested in law and allows them to compete in Florida-wide mock trials and appeals that go all the way up to Florida’s mock Supreme Court.

With a passion for life and a continued commitment to their work, there is surely more to come from Charles Miller and Cynthia Lichtenstein.

Located on Orange Avenue in downtown Sarasota, the Woman’s Exchange is a consignment store like no other. It began in 1962 with the idea to create a business means of supporting local arts in Sarasota and Manatee counties. The Woman’s Exchange was formed as a result, offering affordably priced treasures like Tiffany silver, Gucci handbags, fine jewelry, women’s clothing, high-end furniture, oriental rugs, and more. In fact, Lara Spencer of ABC’s “Good Morning America” and PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow” even lists the Woman’s Exchange as one of her favorite places to shop in her book, I Brake for Yard Sales

Along with a staff of nearly 20 employees, the 12,000 square foot store has over 230 dedicated volunteers who ensure that the ever-changing inventory is filled to the brim. Individuals are able to designate specific participating charities to receive their consignor profits, which is 65 percent of sale price. Additionally, any unsold clothing, furniture, and household items are typically donated to other local non-profit organizations, such as the Salvation Army and the Pines of Sarasota.

Through its consignment operation, the Woman’s Exchange has awarded more than $7.8 million in grants and scholarships to support the arts of Sarasota and Manatee, such as the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Asolo Theatre, Sarasota Opera, student scholarships, and more.

Resident Barbara MacLean became involved with the Woman’s Exchange nearly 26 years ago. At the suggestion of a friend, Barbara began as a seasonal volunteer when she and her husband spent their winters on Longboat Key, and continued her involvement when they moved to Sarasota full-time. Barbara works at the front desk, helping to check out customers and package their items. “The fun part is getting to know the customers,” she says. “People come from all over — New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey, and some even drive up from Venice and Naples.”

Residents Mary Allyn and Weta Cannon began volunteering at the Woman’s Exchange five years ago. The two were instrumental in establishing the Encore! & More Consignment Shop, which benefited the Women’s Resource Center, and when it closed its doors, they decided to focus their efforts on the Woman’s Exchange. Once a week, they volunteer together doing pricing and computer input. “We think the world of the Woman’s Exchange team,” Mary says. Weta adds, “It’s an amazing organization in terms of its financial and moral support of the arts in our community. They really do a wonderful job.”

In addition to volunteering, numerous Plymouth Harbor residents support the mission of the Woman’s Exchange by both consigning and donating. To learn more, you may visit their website at www.SarasotaWEX.com.

 

Judy Liersch had a colorful childhood, growing up in Montréal with her parents and two younger sisters. As the second largest French-speaking city after Paris, only about 15 percent of the population was English. Judy’s family was English, but she learned to speak French and attended the same all-girls private school her mother had 25 years earlier. “We were very free and independent,” she remembers. “We grew up in a time where we could be turned loose after school and on weekends and my mother could say, ‘be back before dark.’”
 
After high school, Judy’s parents wanted her to experience life beyond Montréal and encouraged her to apply to other colleges, not only McGill University — but with one condition: no further than 500 miles away. Determined to attend a co-ed university, Judy settled on Cornell, where she majored in cultural anthropology.

During her last semester of college, Judy had a stroke of good luck on a family vacation when she met a man who was a senior manager at IBM. He told Judy to give him a call when she graduated, and she did just that, arriving at IBM’s Wall Street sales office in 1957. Trained as a Systems Service Girl, Judy wired control panels for the accounting machines used by stock brokerage firms and programmed one of the first commercial computers, the IBM Random Access Method of Accounting and Control (RAMAC).

After a couple of years, Judy decided to get back to her anthropology interests. Her former academic advisor, a Japanese specialist, suggested looking into a teaching job in Japan. She applied to the Canadian Academy (a former missionary school) in Kobe but there were no openings for the upcoming school year — they suggested she try again the following year. She did, and was offered a position teaching second grade. Judy left from Seattle on an old Japanese ship with a two-week voyage ahead of her. Along the way, she befriended two other teachers heading to her school and a Japanese-Canadian artist, who became a life-long friend.

Judy arrived in Japan in 1959. Her K-12 boarding/day school served children from the international community in Kobe — Chinese, Korean, and English — all who spoke at least English and Japanese. While Judy wasn’t really fluent in Japanese, she learned enough to get by, traveling far and wide in her time there. “The exchange rate back then was 360 Yen to the dollar,” Judy says. “We would go to the Japanese Travel Bureau and ask what ryokan accommodations they had available for 500 Yen, which included dinner and breakfast. We hit a lot of the major sights like Kyoto, Shiga Kogen (skiing), Hiroshima, and the island of Kyushu.” Judy’s mother came to visit the summer after her first year in Japan.

“Years later I learned that my father had dispatched her to make sure that I came home,” she laughs. After another school year, Judy returned to New York City and worked at a small publishing firm. Not long after, she transitioned into a job at Time Inc. as a picture researcher. The catch, however, was that the position was in Time’s Montréal office. Judy gladly accepted the job with the stipulation that Time would eventually bring her back to New York. After a few years, Time made good on its promise, and Judy came back to New York as a computer programmer. Although she had experience in first generation computers, she had to be retrained in the third generation, with a unique specialty – typesetting and hyphenation.
 
“Remember that Time Magazine has very narrow columns,” Judy says. “Twenty-five percent of the lines have to be hyphenated. The computer system wasn’t very sophisticated and it had a fairly high hyphenation error rate.” So, Judy was assigned to develop an improved system that reduced the hyphenation error rate by building a dictionary of correctly hyphenated words. As a result, only new words had to be flagged in the copy editing process, improving the accuracy rate from 93 to 99 percent.
 
In 1971, Judy was accepted to Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. In a class of 300, she was one of 19 women. While there, Judy was fascinated by a new program in public management and quickly decided this was the career for her. She was later offered a job with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and after gaining her U.S. citizenship, Judy arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1973 — at the height of the Nixon Administration’s Watergate scandal and the OPEC oil crisis.

At the end of Judy’s six-year stint in Washington, she had worked in five different government offices, including OMB, the Federal Energy Office, the Federal Energy Administration, the Energy Research and Development Administration, and the Department of Energy (DOE). “I was changing offices, bosses, or programs constantly,” she says.

In 1979, the DOE had appointed a new director of its national laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The laboratory was not only hiring, but keen on hiring women managers. Judy interviewed and landed the job of Assistant Director for Government Relations. “While I had the right experience in Washington, this turned out to be a very hard job for two reasons – I was a woman and I was not a scientist,” Judy says. She stuck it out for four years and then transitioned into a line management job where she was in charge of publishing operations, the library, and museum.
 
At Los Alamos, Judy shared a wall with the Chief Financial Officer/Controller, who apparently wrote very loudly, and often, on his blackboard. One time while he was traveling, Judy decided to replace it with a white board. She left a message on it that read, “Confucius say he who have loud blackboard need quiet white board.” The CFO’s name? Allen Jennings.

Judy and Allen married in 1988. After more than 12 years living in Sante Fe and working at Los Alamos, the two retired in 1992. They returned to Washington, D.C., for three years, where they explored the city, reconnected with friends, and traveled to places like China, Egypt, Peru, and South Africa. After a few years back in New Mexico, Judy and Allen wintered in Venice, Florida, and eventually relocated full-time to Nokomis.

The couple moved into Plymouth Harbor in 2011. Today, Judy and Allen enjoy staying active in the community and spending their summers at their condo in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Judy is a longtime supporter of the Women’s Resource Center, the Sarasota Orchestra, and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Within Plymouth Harbor, she is a member of the program and dining committees and has been actively involved with the annual Committee Fair. She and Esther Jensen also reach out to local artists and select those who exhibit in the Mezzanine Gallery.

 

Among the top reasons for moving into a Life Plan Community is a sense of security. Security, however, can take on several forms. By moving into Plymouth Harbor, residents can let go of their worries and take comfort in the fact that they will always be cared for. With helpful, friendly staff and a full continuum of care, residents know that any future needs can be provided within the community.

Furthermore, there is an increased sense of safety, freedom, and community — as residents are no longer responsible for the day-to-day demands of homeownership and are able to get to know their neighbors and engage in an abundance of new activities. Of course, there is also the added benefit of 24/7 security monitoring and security staff.

In total, Plymouth Harbor has 13 security officers, who each have first responder experience in a variety of different backgrounds —including law enforcement, military, and general security. In fact, combined experience in the security department here at Plymouth Harbor is more than 275 years. On any given day, there are three security personnel on campus during the day shift, and two during the second and third shifts. Throughout the entire campus, there are over 40 security cameras, with plans to install several additional cameras after the completion of the Northwest Garden Building.

While you may see and know many members of the security team, there is much that goes on behind the scenes. During each shift, security staff provide mobile and foot patrol of the campus; respond to alarms; aid with resident/guest assistance; assist in parking; provide shuttle service; guard against theft; maintain overall security; and write reports of daily activities and irregularities, such as equipment or property damage, theft, trespassers, or unusual occurrences. The Front Desk also aids in the security process by facilitating calls and serving as campus watch, keeping a close eye on all closed-circuit security cameras.

What sets Plymouth Harbor’s security team apart? According to Lyall Smith, Director of Concierge and Security Services, their willingness to go the extra mile, cooperating with all other departments. “Oftentimes, security staff are the only ones on campus after hours to assist with numerous requests, from simple to complex challenges,” he adds. “Plymouth Harbor is a ‘mini city,’ which creates similar demands of our security officers as they are the first responders on duty.”

In recent months, the Community Involvement section of the Harbor Light has focused on residents’ efforts within the Sarasota community. This month, we hope to highlight the many ways residents give generously of their time within Plymouth Harbor.

Residents devote countless hours to enhancing the lives of their neighbors. While some work in different capacities in the Smith Care Center, others work closely with staff to enhance programming and educational opportunities. Additionally, a major way that residents donate their time is through various positions on our resident committees.

Whether putting talents from a career into practice, or learning new skills, residents have the ability to work on 20 different committees — where leadership is continually looking for new and fresh ideas as well as new members. In fact, according to Addie Hurst, the Residents Association’s Executive Council Liaison to Committees, the annual resident Committee Fair was started for this very reason.

Judy Liersch, who began the fair last year, says her inspiration came from activity fairs she attended back in college. “You were able to get to know people. It was quaint, custom, and introduced you to things you may not have considered.” A committee chair herself, Judy says it’s hard to guess who might be interested in which committee and she wanted a way for people to express their interest.

This year’s Committee Fair was held on February 19th in the Café. A chairperson and representative from each committee was present to share information and help answer questions. Residents were able to give their contact information if they were interested in joining a committee, and in the case that a committee was filled, a resident’s name was placed on a sort of “waiting list.”

What can you do if you’re interested in getting involved, but weren’t able to attend the fair? Two things. First, you can contact Addie Hurst at Ext. 572. The second thing you can do is visit the library, where there is a book entitled “What Goes on at Committee Meetings” that contains minutes from each committee’s meetings. The book is a new addition to the library and will be available in mid-March. “It’s a great way for residents to get a taste or flavor for each committee and decide for themselves if they’d like to get involved,” Addie says.

Residents are encouraged to reach out at any time throughout the year to express interest in a committee, as you never know when an opening will occur. Additionally, beginning this year, committee member and leadership term renewals will occur in December rather than April.

Most organizations that offer care for persons with dementia adopt a care model that is pervasive throughout the organization. That approach becomes the standard for training employees and techniques offered for family members. At Plymouth Harbor, we have adopted the Positive Approach™ to Care (PAC) as our care delivery model. PAC was developed by Teepa Snow, whose techniques and training models are used throughout the world.

As part of the campus-wide readiness for our new memory care program, we have initiated several levels of PAC training for all of our employees on caring for and interacting with persons with dementia. We will continue in this vein and expand the training to include our internal resident community, family members, and the community-at-large.

Our overall goal for the program associated with the new Memory Care Residence is to become a premier leader in education and training, locally and nationally, in providing innovative care for
individuals and families experiencing cognitive decline associated with dementia. Our education
and training will include:

Educational programs for our own employees who deliver loving, patient, hands-on care in the Positive Approach to Care techniques.

Ongoing family support and one-on-one counseling, through collaborations with nationally recognized leaders, when loved ones need to know they are not alone in this process and that intimacy and meaningful relationships remain important and achievable.

Education and training offerings for community members outside of the Plymouth Harbor campus in order to demystify and normalize the behaviors associated with dementia-related diseases. Cognitive decline does not mean that we must lose our close friendships and social connections.

Lecture series with internationally-known speakers who will bring us hope that the latest research, treatments, and caregiving techniques are continuously tested and improved throughout the world.

In expanding this program, we hope to bring comfort and expertise to the community so that a
diagnosis of dementia does not result in social isolation or unnecessary burdens on those affected and their loved ones. We believe that we can help provide the tools and support needed for families to continue in meaningful relationships and close friendships throughout their journey.

For many years, a significant number of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) have been concerned that the very category used to describe them actually limited consumer interest. In particular, the terms “continuing care” and “retirement” were perceived to have negative connotations among potential residents, leaving them with the impression that these communities were only for older, less healthy people who need care.

Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay is proud to be part of a nationwide initiative to rename “Continuing Care Retirement Communities” (CCRC) as “Life Plan Communities.” This initiative was designed to help communicate to the public that communities like Plymouth Harbor are about so much more than care: we are about life, and living life to its fullest.

The selection of the name Life Plan Community is the result of a multi-year effort led by LeadingAge, the national association of not-for-profit senior living organizations, in conjunction with a task force consisting of five leading marketing and research firms that specialize in senior living. Hundreds of ideas for a new name were submitted by CCRCs around the country through a national “NameStorming” process, and the top names were then tested for consumer understanding and acceptance through a series of surveys and focus groups.

Why has Plymouth Harbor adopted the “Life Plan Community” branding category? As you may be observing, the senior living landscape is preparing for the tremendous wave of adults who will start turning 75 in about five years. Research has consistently shown that this next generation of potential residents does not respond positively to the term “Continuing Care Retirement Community.” They are self-directed planners who aren’t looking only for “care;” rather, they want a life filled with possibilities, options, and choices.

People who move to Plymouth Harbor, and other Life Plan Communities, tend to be planners; they’ve made decisions to ensure they have a solid plan in place for their future. A Life Plan Community provides just what they need. It allows “planning” and “living” to merge. Having a plan in place — the security of the safety net provided by the availability of healthcare, coupled with the freedom from not having to manage all the day-to-day tasks that come with homeownership — allows for living life to the fullest.

“We’re excited about the new branding category,” said Gordon Okawa, Vice President of Marketing and Community Affairs. “It draws attention to our community being about life, and not only about care. Prior generations looked at retirement community options more reactively, that is, after a possible health event affected them directly. Now, the ‘baby boomer’ generation tends to be more proactive in their decision-making process and wanting a plan and back-up plan in place prior to ‘needing’ or ‘being forced’ to make a decision.

Plymouth Harbor has had the privilege of serving multiple generations of residents over its 50 plus years, and with each successive generation, there is a lesson learned from the previous one. I think all the current residents can guess what that one is — ‘we should have done this five years ago.’

We have definitely noticed a trend over the past two to three years of an increasing number of prospects who are between the ages of 68 and 76 exploring their options and subsequently getting on our Harbor Club wait list.”

The future is bright for Plymouth Harbor, with increasing emphasis on the many aspects of successful aging. In the coming years, we will continue to be the preferred Life Plan Community for multi-generations of older adults who desire an active lifestyle that challenges their physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being.


Note: The Florida Office of Insurance Regulations (OIR) still requires Plymouth Harbor to disclose itself legally as a CCRC under Chapter 651, Florida Statutes, in any promotional or marketing/advertising materials, since the State of Florida has yet to change or update its language to reflect this new term of “Life Plan Community” in the statutes.

Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia-related conditions are a growing concern for all Americans. As a result, memory care is now one of the fastest growing segments of the healthcare industry. Overall, the number of memory care units on the market has increased by 52 percent since 2010, from 43,191 units to 65,594 units as of the second quarter of 2016, according to findings from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC).

While it is important for Life Plan Communities to meet the demand for memory care facilities, it is crucial not to lose sight of the care aspect in the process. The good news is that with an increased number of facilities comes not only increased competition, but increased innovation. Two major innovations seen in the memory care industry today are sensory stimulation and “wandering encouragement.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, stimulation of the senses has been proven to reduce behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia among individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions. Sensory stimulation uses everyday objects to arouse one or more of the five senses with the goal of evoking positive feelings. By drawing attention to a particular item, this type of interaction encourages memories and responses. Each facility has their own unique take on how to accomplish this. In Plymouth Harbor’s new Memory Care Residence, a specialized “sensory circle” will be placed in each of the two neighborhoods. These “circles” are designated areas that are set to encompass many different items for each individual resident, including objects they can directly interact with — for instance sand or seashells that bring back a fond memory of a trip to the beach.

“Wandering encouragement,” on the other hand, embraces the fact that six in 10 people with dementia will wander. Beyond built-in sensors throughout a building or apartment unit to track a resident’s movement, this technique focuses on allowing residents to move about freely in a safe environment. In addition to sensory circles, Plymouth Harbor’s new Memory Care Residence
addresses this in two ways: with an inviting, beautifully landscaped courtyard available for exploring in each of the two neighborhoods; and a designated group area located at one end of each neighborhood, fully equipped with a family room and dining room.

What really sets a memory care facility apart, however, is the critical component of staff training and development — establishing a standard of care and weaving it into every element of the design. With a continued reliance on our Positive Approach™ to Care (PAC) developed by Teepa Snow, and a plan for continuing education and community outreach, our new Memory Care Residence is on track to exceed the expected standard of care.