Presbyterian SeniorCare Network set to open Washington's first dementia-specific assisted community

Adrianne Uphold
Observer Reporter

Seniors in the Washington area affected by dementia or Alzheimer’s will soon be able to receive specialized memory care at Presbyterian SeniorCare Network this fall.

Woodside Place of Washington is Washington’s first dementia-specific assisted community, designed to help residents with their physical, mental and social needs. The community features 36 residential rooms in the two-story building on South Main Street.

Senior Director of Finance Greg Malisky said what sets apart this community is the technology that is going into the building.

“Our building isn’t just a facility, it’s a community,” Malisky said. “We have spent hundred of thousands of dollars to get this place the best technology for our residents. Some places don’t do that, but we think it is necessary so our residents can have the best quality and environment to heal in.”

Malisky said there is unique technology that is implemented into the building to help residents with memory. A computer software program called ‘It’s Never 2 Late’ prompts the residents to use the program by showing them personalized content such as music, photos and familiar surroundings.

Along with computer software, the new building will use circadian lighting. Circadian lighting is a specific type of lighting system that mimics natural light, which helps increase awareness during the day. Malisky said this also helps reduce “sundowning,” which happens when dementia patients get confused and frustrated during the later hours of the day.

“The natural lighting helps heal patients,” Malisky said. “It helps them function better not just during the day, but also at night.”

Malisky said the circadian lighting costs nearly $350,000.

“We think the cost of these programs is worth it,” Malisky said.

The areas for residents are called “neighborhoods,” which are going to be designed like Washington County neighborhoods to remind residents of places they’re familiar with. There will be communal and dining spaces for residents to socialize.

Along with the full-time residential program, there will be adult day services that allow individuals to spend the day at the building to be part of programs such as physical fitness, creative arts and interactive activities, such as electronic brain games and pet therapy.

The building is still under construction, but Malisky thinks it will be late October when it opens and starts accepting residents. Rates for the community have not been released yet.

Senior Director of Communications Lisa Fischetti said Presbyterian SeniorCare noticed the growing need for a dementia community and the lack of programs in this area.

“We create an in-depth study to analyze this area to see if it was needed,” Fischetti said. “There’s a high demand. Washington is one of the highest growing areas of senior citizens.”

Fischetti said memory loss diseases are difficult to talk about with loved ones. She hopes this new program will help create a dialogue for families.

“It’s scary to start thinking about these things and not know where to turn to for your loved ones,” Fischetti said. “Maybe just by having this opportunity in the community will help families figure out the next step.”