Methodist Retirement Communities Set to Open the First Memory Support Community in Huntsville, TX Area

The first and only memory support community in the Huntsville region is set to open its doors in early 2013.

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Ron Jennette

"We will be able to offer a calming environment, private rooms, easy access to activities, dining and an enclosed courtyard, special lighting that will mitigate restlessness, and better monitoring with GPS devices." Ron Jennette, CEO

Huntsville, TX (PRWEB) December 12, 2012

Methodist Retirement Communities is set to open the first and only memory support retirement community in the Huntsville region, Creekside, in early 2013 and will provide care specifically designed to meet the needs of individuals with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss.

CreekSide Retirement Community, a senior living community owned and operated by Methodist Retirement Communities (MRC) of The Woodlands, is located at 1433 Veterans Memorial Parkway in Huntsville. Upon completion in early 2013, the community will include 18 memory support units on the bottom floor of a 3-story structure and will become an integral part of the new community’s mix of catered independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing services.

According to CEO Ron Jennette, memory support has been a top priority for the entire MRC system, which currently operates specialized memory support units within its communities at its Cornerstone community in Texarkana, Crestview in Bryan, and Pinecrest in Lufkin. MRC plans to expand the service to a fifth location by 2015 as part of a planned new community in League City. Jennette believes CreekSide residents will benefit as staff tap into the specialized programming and training throughout the MRC system.

“This will make CreekSide a draw from many surrounding areas, along with Huntsville and Walker County,” Jennette says. “Onsite healthcare is cited as one of the primary reasons for choosing a retirement community, and many of us have seen the effects of memory loss on parents, grandparents and friends. As the population ages, quality programs, services and care provided by well trained caregivers for those affected by these dreadful dementia diseases will become a necessity, not an option.”

Alzheimer’s disease is the fastest-growing disease in the developed world, with nearly one in eight of those over 65 affected in the U.S. alone, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Jennette notes that the new properties are a far cry from the traditional “healthcare” models. “They’re designed to be much more resident-focused in a home environment in terms of technology and design,” he explains. “We will be able to offer a calming environment, private rooms, easy access to activities, dining and an enclosed courtyard, special lighting that will mitigate restlessness, and better monitoring with GPS devices. They’re subtle touches, but they make a world of difference.”

Staff members will also be trained specifically to work with residents who have varying levels of cognitive abilities. “Many of those with memory support issues do not necessarily require a lot of help with activities of daily living,” he says, “so our focus is often about allowing them to live their lives to their fullest capacity, and feel important and needed, rather than imposing a strict regimen on them.”

MRC has been cited as an example of progressive care in the state of Texas by a number of organizations. Existing memory support efforts include sensory rooms based on a European design equipped with special lighting and audio that stimulate the senses in a calming manner, as well as a Montessori-type learning program, and an early childhood life skills education program that has been repurposed for older adults. The latter, inspired by Darla Partin, a former teacher and wife of MRC administrator Todd Partin, taps into the theory that memory care residents often respond positively to younger points and experiences.

Families and primary caretakers are encouraged to be a part of the process. “There’s often a lot of guilt, and many caretakers feel that they’re ‘putting their loved ones away,’” says Jennette. “However, experience has shown that those caretakers often ignore their own health as a result of that tremendous responsibility. We’re able to care for their loved one in a safe, supporting environment while allowing everyone to remain involved and engaged. Everyone can benefit through this approach.”

MRC’s ultimate goal is to become a resource for the entire state by strengthening partnerships with healthcare entities such as hospitals, along with universities and physicians, to conduct studies and research related to the disease. Jennette, who also serves as chair for LeadingAge Texas, the state association for non-profit senior living communities throughout the state, is working to bring memory support to the organization’s leadership training program.

CreekSide will aim to obtain a certificate of occupancy by the end of the year, complete a state clinical survey, and begin transferring residents by February. The community expects to be fully operational by spring of 2013, and includes open space reserved for future development.

“Regardless of the need, our focus is trying to inspire and serve,” Jennette says. “It’s not about buildings, but about people living life to their fullest.”

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