The Sanctuary Will Host Outreach Events to Create Dementia Awareness

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The affordable assisted living and memory care community is hosting monthly informational sessions to help make the St. Cloud area more dementia-friendly. The Sanctuary at St. Cloud is designed to serve older adults in Minnesota who need some help to maintain their independence.

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We want everyone who attends these sessions to turn their new understanding into a practical action that can help support someone living with dementia. The action can be as big or small as you choose, but it will make a difference. Every action counts.

The Sanctuary at St. Cloud is hosting ongoing events to help people learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The sessions will be held at 1 p.m. on Jan. 15, Feb. 19, March 19 and April 16 at The Sanctuary, 2410 20th Avenue, St. Cloud.

During these fun, interactive courses, attendees will learn more about Dementia Friends, a worldwide movement to make communities dementia-friendly. Topics will include the five key messages about dementia, what it’s like to live with the disease and how to turn your understanding into action that supports people living with dementia. Attendees will also learn tips on how to better communicate with someone who has Alzheimer’s.

Cristina Rodriguez, the resident engagement director for memory care at The Sanctuary, will lead the discussions. Rodriguez is a certified dementia practitioner, certified validation associate and dementia champion. She has spent the past 20 years working with individuals who are living with dementia and their families or caregivers.

The Sanctuary at St. Cloud is the first 100 percent trained dementia-friendly community in the state of Minnesota. The community hosted its first dementia education training this summer, and the sessions continue to grow in popularity. To date, The Sanctuary has made over 100 Dementia Friends through its outreach.

After the scheduled April session, classes will continue to be held at The Sanctuary from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month.

The need for Alzheimer’s education comes as the number of older adults living with the disease continues to grow.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 91,000 Minnesotans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s. A third of seniors over 85 have the disease.

Nearly 250,000 caregivers in Minnesota are caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s. More than half of this caregiving takes place in their own homes, and these caregivers need more support.

“We want everyone who attends these sessions to turn their new understanding into a practical action that can help support someone living with dementia,” Rodriguez said. “The action can be as big or small as you choose, but it will make a difference. Every action counts.”

For more information about the Dementia Friends informational sessions, call 320-252-6325.

The Sanctuary at St. Cloud was designed for seniors who have a financial need and need some help to maintain their independence.

“We provide older adults with a wonderful alternative to a nursing home or to struggling alone at home,” said Sanctuary Administrator Kristi Keller-Smith.

The community combines residential apartment-home living with the availability of personal assistance, help with medications, and a variety of convenience and support services, such as meals, housekeeping, laundry and transportation.

Residents live in private apartments that they furnish and decorate to their tastes. Each of the apartments features a kitchenette, spacious bathroom with shower and grab bars, individually controlled heating and air conditioning and an emergency alert system.

In addition, The Sanctuary offers several areas for residents to enjoy, including a spacious dining room and private dining room, an exercise room, movie theater, library and computer room, physical therapy room and an outdoor patio area.

"Residents benefit from all of the opportunities to socialize with friends and neighbors and to participate in activities and special programs," says Keller-Smith.

Certified nursing assistants, working under the direction of a licensed nurse, are on-duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Part of the community is dedicated to memory care, catering to older adults with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia. This specialized neighborhood provides opportunities for residents to maintain a sense of purpose and belonging throughout the seasons of dementia.

"Our focus," says Rod Burkett, CEO of Gardant Management Solutions, the company that manages the community "is to provide The Sanctuary residents with the love, compassion and dignity they deserve and the help and assistance they need. Our emphasis is on helping each resident achieve and maintain as much independence as possible for as long as possible."

Gardant also manages The Sanctuary communities in Brooklyn Center and West St. Paul. The Sanctuary at Springboro assisted living community will open in Ohio this year.

The Sanctuary at St. Cloud is licensed and regulated through the Minnesota Department of Health and certified for Medicaid reimbursement by the State Department of Human Services.

SCA Properties developed The Sanctuary communities.

When fully occupied, the community will provide more than 100 full-time and part-time jobs. Annual payroll with benefits is projected to be $2.4 million.

For more information about the community, visit

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Amber Springer

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