Memory Care Innovations

The most up-to-date approaches to dementia care

Find innovative memory care homes near you

“We focus on the person, not the disease,” says Maggie Beckett, Director of Memory Care for Alavida Lifestyles. It’s an attitude echoed in many care communities, one that sparks personalization and constant innovation in treatment and care available. Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Canada undergo continued improvement, seen in emerging trends like the following:

Read our guide to Alzheimer's care homes, including listings and a full look at memory care.

Innovative Canadian memory care homes

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The Village of Erin Meadows  

2930 Erin Centre Blvd., Mississauga, Ontario, L5M 7M4

Mississauga's unique continuum of care featuring a vibrant Main Street with Independent Living Suites, Retirement Apartments, Full Service Suites, Assisted Care, Memory Care and Long Term Care.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Metta Lifestyles Greenview Retirement  

880 Lawrence Ave E, North York, Ontario, M3C1P6

At Greenview Residence, we offer a complete range of care services in a welcoming environment. Whether it's our compassionate staff, fresh homemade meals, or exciting and engaging activities, you will truly feel at home.

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Briton House  

720 Mt. Pleasant Road, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 2N7

Family-owned and operated, the Briton House is dedicated to the highest standards of service. Offering a full continuum of care, a variety of amenities and suites, home-cooked meals, and a 15,000 sq. ft. indoor garden.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Origin at Longwood  

6205 Oliver Road, Nanaimo, British Columbia, V9T 6T1

Origin at Longwood offers a choice of spacious suites, featuring large windows with a variety of exposures to Nanaimo’s vistas or Longwood’s pristine forests – most suites also feature a private balcony or patio.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Metta Lifestyles Governors Walk Retirement Residence  

150 Stanley Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario, K1M 2J7

A former monastery and friary, Governors Walk is designed to pay respect to the past while featuring a modern touch. Governors Walk is steps away from the picturesque Rideau River and Stanley park.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Don Mills Retirement Residence  

2 Green Belt Drive, North York, Ontario, M3C 1L8

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Park Place Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence  

110 & 120 Central Park Dr, Ottawa, Ontario, K2C 4G3

Whether you're looking for independent living, assisted living or memory care, you can access them all in one location at Park Place. We are a vibrant, social community surrounded by parks and close to many amenities.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Metta Lifestyles McCowan Retirement Residence  

2881 Eglinton Avenue East, Scarborough, Ontario, M1J 0A2

McCowan Retirement Residence is a vibrant and family oriented retirement home located in Scarborough. With team members who have been here since we opened in 2004, you can expect a warm welcome and a feeling of home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Riverwalk Retirement Residence  

528 25 Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta, V2S 0L5

Riverwalk Retirement Residence is centrally located in the Cliff Bungalow-Mission community of Calgary. We offer a continuum of care including Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Village Langley  

3920 198th Street, Langley, British Columbia, V3A1E1

We believe that the desire for fulfillment and living a life with purpose does not diminish with a diagnosis of dementia. We focus on the possibilities of each person, supporting each to live with laughter, love and joy.

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Carp Commons Retirement Village  

458 Donald B. Munro Drive, Carp, Ontario, K0A 1L0

One visit to Carp Commons Retirement Village and you’ll see the difference in terms of amenities, food, services, programs, and the little touches that make it feel like home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Golden Sands  

9210 91 Avenue, P.O. Box 1380, Lac La Biche, Alberta, T0A 2C0

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Credit River  

175 Rutledge Rd., Mississauga, Ontario, L5M 0X7

Credit River is a 6-storey condo style residence, with an array of well-appointed suite styles to choose from and our highly-skilled health care professionals are available around the clock if you need them.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Promenade Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence  

110 & 150 Rossignol Drive, Orleans, Ontario, K4A 0N2

With so much to do nearby, it’s easy to forget why you might want to stay home, but with its exceptional dining, impeccable design, and fun activities, you’ll find Promenade has many attractions of its own!

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Whitehorn Village Retirement Community by Origin  

5200 44 Ave NE, Calgary, Alberta, T1Y7L4

Our life enrichment calendar is full of activities to help you answer the question “What do I want to do today?” Attend our fitness classes, enjoy movies in our theatre, or share laughs over coffees in our bistro.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Hawthorn Park Retirement Community  

867 KLO Road, Kelowna, British Columbia, V1Y 9G5

Living at Hawthorn Park Retirement Residence means you have choices & can customize the services you need, as you need them. We offer three lifestyle opportunities; supportive living, assisted living & complex care.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Metta Lifestyles Queens Estate Retirement  

265 Queens Drive, Toronto, Ontario, M6L 3C6

At Queens Estate, we offer a complete range of care services in a welcoming environment. Whether it's our compassionate staff, fresh homemade meals, or exciting and engaging activities, you will truly feel at home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Aster Gardens  

7 Brower Drive, Sherwood Park, Alberta, T8H 1Y7

Aster Gardens, an Optima Living community, opened in March 2021, we are transforming Senior's living. You are going to love living here....Let Us Welcome You Home!

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Holland Gardens  

552 Holland St W, Bradford, Ontario, L3Z 4H3

Located in the heart of a vibrant community, Holland Gardens is the perfect place to live, laugh and enjoy life. An exciting community offering a luxurious resort lifestyle, an ideal place for inspired senior living.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Wintergreene Estates  

4950 Pasqua Street, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4S 7L2

At Wintergreene you'll discover a combination of independence, privacy, activities, health and wellness programs & friendly companionship to savour throughout your retirement.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Prince of Peace  

285030 Luther Rose Blvd NE, Calgary, Alberta, T1X 1M9

Prince of Peace a variety of suites styles with kitchenettes and incredible mountain views. It's the perfect residence for seniors who are active, require some assistance, or have memory care needs.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Origin at Spring Creek  

808 Spring Creek Drive, Canmore, Alberta, T1W0K3

Origin at Spring Creek is Bow Valley’s leading independent, assisted living, & memory care community. Nestled in the luxurious mountain town of Canmore, we empower our residents to remain happy, healthy & active.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Sagecare 147 Elder Street  

147 Elder Street, North York, Ontario, M3H5G9

Enlightened dementia care touches more than memory. 147 Elder St. is a place that provides opportunities for the joy and meaning still ahead when wellbeing can no longer be realized at home.

Lifestyle Options: Memory Care

The Shores of Port Credit  

280 Lakeshore Rd. W., Mississauga, Ontario, L5H 0A5

The Shores is designed for vibrant living with the highest quality of personal care. Amenities include pool, fitness & exercise club, restaurant, bistro & cafe, a golf simulator lounge & wine cellar.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Sweetgrass  

105 6th Avenue NE, Slave Lake, Alberta, T0G 2A2

At Sweetgrass, we are dedicated to promoting maximum independence, choice, and dignity for each resident and encourage the involvement of family, neighbours and friends.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Dunfield Retirement Residence  

77 Dunfield Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 2H3

The Dunfield Retirement Residence has established a new standard in senior retirement living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) with 177 spacious apartments. Where people come to LIVE!

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Baycrest Terraces  

55 Ameer Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M6A 2Z1

We are Toronto's Finest Kosher Retirement Residence. Located on the Baycrest campus in the heart of North York's Jewish community. Baycrest Terraces, "Where Life Thrives". Call us today for more information.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Swan Evergreen Village by Origin  

2635 Eversyde Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2Y5G9

Swan Evergreen Village is a leading Independent Living, Assisted Living & Memory Care community in Southwest Calgary. Our Passion for Caring guides our active lifestyle. quality dining and supporting care needs.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Village at University Gates  

250 Laurelwood Drive, Waterloo, Ontario, N2J 0E2

Now welcoming our Retirement Home Residents to the Village. We offer Waterloo a range of services for today's Senior including Retirement Apartments, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Long Term Care.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Village of Tansley Woods  

4100 Upper Middle Road, Burlington, Ontario, L7W 4W8

At The Village of Tansley Woods, we offer the full continuum of care - Independent Living Suites, Retirement Apartments, Full Service Retirement Suites, Assisted Care, Memory Care and Long Term Care all in one village.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Village of Winston Park  

695 Block Line Road, Kitchener, Ontario, N2E 3K1

This elegant retirement residence in Kitchener-Waterloo offers a continuum of care from independent living apartments to assisted living, memory care and long-term care.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Village of Riverside Glen  

60 Woodlawn Road East, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 8M8

This elegant Guelph retirement home offers a range of care including assisted living and long term care, serviced by a friendly, caring staff.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Village of Wentworth Heights  

1620 Upper Wentworth St., Hamilton, Ontario, L9B 2W3

The Village of Wentworth Heights is a full-service retirement living community offering retirement apartments, full-service suites, assisted living and memory care.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Village of Arbour Trails  

32 Bayberry Drive, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 0C9

Guelph retirement home offers Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care. Includes 24 hour onsite nursing team and medication support within a Village-like setting. It takes a Village to care.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Village of Humber Heights  

2245 Lawrence Avenue West, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9P 3W3

The Village of Humber Heights in Etobicoke offers different levels of service from independent apartments with meals to assisted living to long-term care.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Village of Glendale Crossing  

3030 Singleton Avenue, London, Ontario, N6L 0B6

A true retirement hub featuring independent Living Apartments with full kitchens, Retirement Apartments, Full Service Retirement suites with walk out patios, Assisted Care, Memory Care and LTC.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

The Village of Taunton Mills  

3800 Brock Sreet North, Whitby, Ontario, L1R 3A5

The Village of Taunton Mills in Whitby presents several levels of service from seniors' apartments with meals to assisted living to long-term care.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Carleton Place Terrace by Symphony  

6 Arthur Street, Carleton Place, Ontario, K7C 4S4

We offer a truly all inclusive plan. We welcome pets: offer residents accommodation options .Our array of activities & chef-prepared meals keep our residents healthy & active. Offering beautiful outdoor spaces to enjoy.

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Vineyards Residence  

726 Valley Road, Kelowna, British Columbia, V1V 0E9

The Vineyards approach to assisted living & memory care allows people to go about life as they always have, despite health changes. Beautiful suites & homemade meals. Discover for yourself why we say Life’s Better Here

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care

Wentworth Manor  

5717 14 Ave SW, Calgary, Alberta, T3H 3M2

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Ravines Seniors' Suites & Retirement Residence  

626 & 636 Prado Private, Ottawa, Ontario, K2E 0B3

Ravines offers you tranquility in one of Ottawa’s most scenic neighbourhoods, Prince of Wales. A social, carefree lifestyle awaits you in a friendly community staffed with individuals who truly care.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Aspira The Barrieview Retirement Living  

3 Concert Way, Barrie, Ontario, L4N6N5

At Aspira The Barrieview Retirement Living our goal is to help you live fully, every day.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Aspira Riverbend Crossing Retirement Living  

2235 Heseltine Rd, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4V 2Y7

At Riverbend Crossing our goal is to help you live fully, every day.

Lifestyle Options: Memory Care

The Manor Villages StayWell Manor  

174 Ypres Green SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2T 6M2

Staywell Manor Village offers elegant retirement living in the heart of Calgary. Whether you are looking for independent living, assisted living or memory care, we have lifestyle options to meet your needs.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Richmond Care Home  

27 Nixon Farm Drive, Richmond, Ontario, K0A 2Z0

Richmond Care Home is a unique 16-unit retirement home specifically designed for women living with dementia. We offer cutting-edge exceptional memory care, that's very reasonably priced in an intimate home-like setting.

Lifestyle Options: Memory Care

New Horizons Tower  

1140 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, M6H 4E6

From gracious dining to new suites and lounges, residents are enjoying the new management and upgrades found at 1140 Bloor Street West, in the Heart of Bloordale Village.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

OPAL by Element  

438 West King Edward Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5Y 05M

438 West King Edward Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Y 0M5 Opal offers a full continuum of support from Independent Living, Assisted living all the way to Complex Care, allowing the opportunity for aging in place.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Aspira West Park Crossing Retirement Living  

1801 Meier Drive, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, S6J0C3

At Aspira West Park our goal is to help you live fully, every day.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Waterford, The  

1345 56th Street, Tsawwassen, British Columbia, V4L 2P9

Featuring bright suites surrounded by pedestrian pathways, and a two-acre water feature in Tsawwassen town-centre. Two choices in all-inclusive senior housing: independent living and a licensed Care Centre suites.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Magnolia Gardens  

5840 Glover Rd, Langley, British Columbia, V3A 9K3

An oasis in the heart of Langley City, Magnolia Gardens features bright, spacious suites and a warm, friendly atmosphere. Two choices in senior living: 115 independent living suites, and a 40 suite licensed Care Centre.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Forest Valley Terrace By Symphony  

1510 St. Joseph Boulevard, Orleans, Ontario, K1C 7L1

Forest Valley Terrace is proud to be the only community that is specifically designed & dedicated to the unique needs of seniors with all stages of Alzheimer’s, dementia or other forms of memory impairment in Ottawa.

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care

Parkland on Eglinton West  

4650 Eglinton Ave. W., Etobicoke, Ontario, M9A 0E3

Parkland on Eglinton West offers Lifestyle Apartments, All-Inclusive Lifestyle and Supportive Lifestyle options for seniors. Parkland makes it easy for you to do more of what you love!

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Hamilton High Street Residence  

23100 Garripie Avenue, Richmond, British Columbia, V6V 0B9

Welcome to where independence meets peace of mind. Experience Richmond's cruise-inspired community offering gourmet meals, active living, entertainment & services that are not in-your-face, but there when you need them.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Lanes Retirement Living  

134 Airport Heights Drive, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, A1A 4Z7

Conveniently located in the city's east end, our newest location provides an upscale retirement experience with unmatched services and amenities, personalized care, and a warm family atmosphere.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care

Aspira Douglas Crossing Retirement Living  

6 Douglas Rd, Uxbridge, Ontario, L9P1S9

At Aspira Douglas Crossing our goal is to help you live fully, every day.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Delmanor Elgin Mills  

80 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill, Ontario, L4C 0L3

Award Winning Delmanor Elgin Mills, has proudly served the Richmond Hill community since 2002.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Symphony Senior Living Kanata  

27 Weaver Crescent, Kanata, Ontario, K2K 2Z8

Enjoy the natural setting of the surrounding Kanata Lakes with access to shopping, parks and churches at Symphony Senior Living Kanata. This pet friendly community offers a variety of service packages and suites to fulfill your unique needs.

Lifestyle Options: Assisted Living, Memory Care

Aspira Stonebridge Crossing Retirement Living  

102 Wellman Cres., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7T 0J1

At Aspira Stonebridge Crossing our goal is to help you live fully, every day.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

The Meadows of Aurora  

440 William Graham Drive, Aurora, Ontario, L4G 1X5

The Meadows of Aurora is a Christian Seniors Lifestyle Community that promotes the wellbeing of individuals 65+. Residents experience nature’s green spaces, memorable dining experiences and great times with friends.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Active Living

Chartwell Scarlett Heights Retirement Residence  

4005 Eglinton Ave West, Etobicoke, Ontario, M9A 5H3

A safe and rewarding lifestyle in a Etobicoke seniors housing community you're proud to call home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Memory Care

Chartwell Eau Claire Care Residence  

301 7th Street SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 1Y6

A safe and rewarding lifestyle in a Calgary seniors housing community you're proud to call home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Memory Care, Assisted Living

Chartwell Deerview Crossing Retirement Residence  

460 Rymal Road West, Hamilton, Ontario, L9B 0B2

A safe and rewarding lifestyle in a Hamilton seniors housing community you're proud to call home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Memory Care

Chartwell Willow Retirement Community  

12275-224th Street, Maple Ridge, British Columbia, V2X 6H5

A safe and rewarding lifestyle in a Maple Ridge seniors housing community you're proud to call home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care

Chartwell Georgian Traditions Retirement Residence  

57 Trott Blvd., Collingwood, Ontario, L9Y 0A3

A safe and rewarding lifestyle in a Collingwood seniors housing community you're proud to call home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Memory Care

Chartwell Empress Kanata Retirement Residence  

170 McGibbon Drive, Kanata, Ontario, K2L 4H5

A safe and rewarding lifestyle in a Kanata seniors housing community you're proud to call home.

Lifestyle Options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care


Home Care companies in all and area.

Qualicare  

Toronto, Mississauga and Belleville, Toronto, Mississauga and Belleville, Ontario, M8X2X9

Qualicare offers reliable and consistent caregivers and nursing for patients with medical, dementia, and mobility challenges. We also support people during and after hospital stays and within assisted living residences.

Lifestyle Options: Respite care, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care, Home Care

Lawbell Senior Home Care Services  

7191 Yonge Street, Markham, Ontario, L3T 0C7

Lawbell Senior Home Care Services We offers medical and non - medical care support for seniors and people of all ages, in their homes, retirement residence, hospitals and Long term care facilities.

Lifestyle Options: Respite care, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care, Home Care

Nurse Next Door Toronto Beaches  

Eglinton Avenue East, Scarborough, Ontario, M1K 2M8

Nurse Next Door Toronto Beaches provides compassionate 24 hour personalized senior care services with bonded, registered & licensed Nurses / RPN's, in your home, hospital, rehab, LTC & retirement communities.

Lifestyle Options: Respite care, Assisted Living, Memory Care, Long-term care, Home Care

Here's a look at the way memory care communities innovate their approach in 2019:

Ongoing education of care staff

Rachelle Vroom is proud of Symphony Senior Living Orleans’ recent training in virtual dementia. “A few months ago we ran sessions at all four of our Ottawa locations, holding it open to the public, family members, anyone who wanted to take part and kind of ‘walk a mile in their shoes,’ to find out what a difference dementia makes to their loved ones' lives.” This training program for staff was also open to family members and others who wanted to get a sense of what it is like to live with dementia.

In the virtual dementia program, people were suited up with various equipment and placed into a mockup of a resident’s room. They were asked to complete five tasks, but in a VR context that simulated symptoms of someone living with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

The effect of the exercise was phenomenal. “Trying to understand and complete tasks was completely different for people. The virtual dementia program allowed them to understand how someone with dementia would go about trying to understand a task. It really helped everyone, including family members and our staff to understand the frustrations of dementia. It gave them a better understanding of the confusion the resident may face.”

“After the program,” says Vroom, “staff was better able to understand and relate to the resident. For example, they would now focus on giving visual cues to the resident, visual cues that avoided confusing the resident, instead of just a verbal cue. They might now lay clothing on the bed and give the resident a visual choice what they might wear today.”

Staff was better able to understand and relate to residents. We saw a 30 percent improvement in our DACE scores.

That wasn’t just a vague feeling but a quantifiable improvement in staff’s ability to understand care needs. “In our DACE* scoring system,” explains Vroom,  “we scored all of our employees prior to the training, then after they went through the training, and we saw a 30 percent improvement in scores.” 

This impacted family members who took part in the program as well. “Now family understands why they have to repeat the same thing five times. Now they understand why their loved one gets impatient or responds differently to lights and sounds. It helped them understand their loved one and how to live with the disease as well.”  

Relationship-centered care, by professionally trained care staff

Other retirement communities also use the virtual dementia program, including staff at Alavida Lifestyles and elsewhere. Training and support, says Beckett, "is deeply rooted in relationship centered care and wellbeing – to ensure that our residents feel belonging." Coupled with training in Gentle Persuasion, care staff in these communities are exceptionally well-trained in patience and empathy with dementia sufferers.

Ratios of care staff to residents are also kept to a minimum at many communities, to maximize care given to each resident. For example, at Credit River in Mississauga, this ratio is kept to six to one, says Bobbie Seaton, supervisor of Memory Care. "Everything is very tailored to person-centered care here," she adds. "We take information from families and customize it for each individual. In the end, we're able to appeal to each resident's uniqueness."

"That's really what makes our community special and unique," echoes Jennifer Beninato, MemoryPlus Manager at Delmanor Elgin Mills. "Our kind, dedicated team members. Each team member was carefully chosen, and each and every one comes with a rich history in dementia care. Time and time again, our families express their gratitude and how it’s clear to them how genuinely our team cares."

Spaces that promote calmness

The centerpiece of **Davenhill Senior Living’s memory care floor is the simulated beachside quiet room. The “ocean room” features Muskoka chairs, an aquarium full of fish, seaside sounds played over speakers (including waves and calling gulls) and even sand for people to sink their toes into. “It’s perfect for those times where people feel the need for a quiet spot to calm down. They come here and they hear the sounds of the ocean and you can just see them lighten up,” says Janice Pitts, the community's Executive Director.

It’s a solution that works for people experiencing the anxiety and agitation that are symptomatic of dementia, especially sundowning. No matter who you are, it’s hard not to feel calmer when you are in the beachside room at Davenhill Senior Living.

At Schlegel Villages, you’ll also find intimacy created in “neighbourhoods” following from the village concept  to Schlegel, but every Schlegel community has a neighbourhood dedicated to people with Alzheimers’ and other forms of dementia. Its memory care neighbourhoods, found in its Villages across Ontario, are ideal as a stopgap for families waiting for a long term bed in that province. As Barb Sutcliffe of the Village of Winston Park in Kitchener says, “this affords people the opportunity to get the support they need as an interim step.” Emma’s Neighbourhood is the name of the memory care neighbourhood at Winston Park. Sutcliffe says, “It’s a safe, secured environment, where there are registered staff on duty 24 hours a day.”

Creation of a more homelike feel

The intimacy and peace found in these spaces is part of an effort by designers like Toronto’s Andrea vander King to "as much as possible, mirror life through the creation of familiar surroundings."  Schlegel Villages remain a superior example of this, with the layout of every community mimicking a village, with a main street, town square and shops to create a pervasively familiar, small town feel.

A “homelike feel” is critical to memory care at Carp Commons, one of many Verve Senior Living properties across Canada. One of the features of this community, just outside Ottawa, is its “Household Suites.” Here, a minimum number of residents live in a quiet, comfortable environment that includes a private family style dining area. We don't take a "one-size-fits-all approach," says Sales & Marketing Manager Rebekah Gunning, but instead, "focus on reducing anxiety for residents and their families."

“At our communities," says Elaine Wood, Vice President of Delmanor, "we have a life skills area, where we have an office set up, everything is there for them to be able to go to work and for them it’s about being able to continue doing a job. But Life Skills is only one component of our MemoryCare Plus neighbourhood…Our dementia design expert has helped guide us in others. One of the important design elements seen in our communities is the indoor porch.”

Similarly, Annette Polasek is proud of “Personal Care Households” at Wintergreene Estates in Regina. 12 units are "designed in a circle" to eliminate dead ends and wrong turns that can easily cause disorientation for dementia sufferers. As she says, "The resident always end up back at their room." It’s a wonderful instance of continuous circulation paths, an important component of many of the best memory care communities. 

The layout of Credit River's memory care floor is also circular, "really more like two households in a kind of figure 8," says Jill Somerville, the community's Senior Sales and Marketing Manager. "Inside, there's a very bright and happy feel. The suites, too, are very relaxing. One family member has called our suites a 'zen zone,' where it's so easy to decompress and relax." 

One of the design features you’ll immediately notice on Davenhill Senior Living’s memory care floor is closets and doors wallpapered with the appearance of a bookshelf. This is also in line with a principle of minimizing seniors’ tendency to confusion, wandering or elopement. Memory care residents are discouraged from opening a door that may only confuse them. 

As much as possible, we try to mirror normal life through the creation of familiar surroundings.

These design innovations are not meant to "trick" those with dementia but to guard safety and security and remove things in their environment that may make them apprehensive or disoriented. This softened feel supports better personal relationships among everyone (staff and senior residents) "and stress levels are minimized."

Encouraging memory and social interaction

Many communities offer brain games and other programs that facilitate and improve memory.  One exceptional example is The Healthy Minds Program at Ravines, Promenade and Park Place in Ottawa (all owned by Alavida Lifestyles). Maggie Beckett, Alavida Lifestyles' dedicated Director of Memory Care and Clinical Services, focuses on helping all family members through their journey with Alzheimer’s. Music Therapy is a critical component of this program, also. You’ll find a certified Music Therapist regularly visiting any Alavida community, facilitating its Music & Memory Program. "The program gives our residents a renewed meaning and connection in their lives through the gift of personalized music," says Beckett. Music is demonstrated to stimulate memory and exercises specific parts of the brain.

Carp Commons ensures “research-based, professionally directed, and completely customizable activities” for those in memory care, according to Gunning. “This includes brain fitness, cueing and reminder exercises. These help bring out the best in our residents and support a positive outlook and overall mental health.”

The Music and Memory program at Schlegel supports residents living with dementia, using music that helps bring a sense of wellbeing, improves mood and soothes any negative stress they may be feeling.

The Java Music Program is another noted program found at memory care communities across the country, including McCowan Retirement Residence in Scarborough. Here, the Memory Lane (its dedicated memory care floor) activity calendar includes Java Music Club twice per month. This program encourages social interaction through music, helping to alleviate the isolation inherent to dementia while also encouraging memory retention through music.

And in a unique take on social interaction, Credit River encourages internal residents to work with those in memory care. "Residents from independent living come in for reading programs and baking programs," says Seaton. "It's really a very homey communal environment here." 

Use of latest technology

Innovations in technology are at the forefront in memory care as well.

Call badges. At Symphony Senior Living communities throughout Ottawa, the security of dementia residents is safeguarded through the use of pendants equipped with GPS tracking. Under this system, used with the enthusiastic consent of family members, dementia patients who have a tendency to wander are given a Momentum Badge. The Badge is used to call for help if they need it.

Real time location systems are a simple way of tracking the whereabouts of those suffering from dementia and the tendency to wander, and inobtrusive use of GPS is found in an increasing number of memory care communities across the country.

WanderGuard is another similar technology used in communties such as Credit River (see above). "It looks like a watch," says Seaton, "but it signals to staff and beeps to staff's phones, so that staff can respond when a resident needs direction."   

Snoezelen rooms create a “soothing, stimulating environment” for Alzheimer’s Disease sufferers, as noted by Kolasek. Other memory care communities including many Schlegel Villages are also equipped with Snoezelen rooms.

Circadian lighting. Harsh or overstimulating lighting is known to exacerbate the effects of sundowning, a syndrome strongly associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. Davenhill Senior Living is one of the first communities in Canada where the lighting mimics circadian rhythms. This has a calming effect on residents here.

Every room in the Davenhill is equipped with a Google Home unit, as well. Residents adapt well to this simple, unobtrusive technology, understanding they can control music and other environmental elements. One senior at the Davenhill likes to speak in the Spanish of her childhood and Google Home is an easily accessible help with this. “Sometimes she’ll go back to her Spanish and it helps us translate,” says Janice Pitts of the Davenhill.

One senior at the Davenhill likes to speak the Spanish of her childhood and Google Home helps staff easily translate.

The residents adapt easily to the availability of Google Home in every room. “They love it that they can find and play old music,” she adds, “things like Cole Porter and the old standards. They can play anything that suits them.”

Resident-centered care

“It’s really important that we look at everything through the lens of our residents,” says Elaine Wood of Delmanor. "MemoryPlus is about looking at dementia through a different lens. It’s about saying to people that, although I have dementia, I’m still here.”

It's an ideal held by many in the memory care field. And as, Bobbie Seaton of Credit River says, "just because there's memory loss, doesn't mean that we can't make life amazing and make every day enjoyable." 

*Dementia Awareness Competency Evaluation

**Closing as of summer 2019.

- Jim Huinink 



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