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Loretto to offer new 30 bed unit for memory care

Loretto is unveiling a new unit to help Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients in central New York.

When you step off of the elevator onto the 12th floor at Loretto, you feel like you’re in a neighborhood. The new unit includes patches of blue sky on the ceiling, park benches in the halls, street signs outside of doors, and walls camouflaged with colorful landscapes.

During a tour, Lori Sakalas, Loretto’s chief operating officer for skilled nursing facilities, pointed out calming sensory touches throughout the floor, like different fabrics.

"Sometimes (residents) are just a little fidgety, so we put these (fabrics) along the wall where you'll see they can have different textures of the quilts," said Sakalas.

Workers at the facility also hope family members help to add personal touches to make residents feel more at home.

“They’ll have the opportunity to look at each one of their rooms, hopefully, be able to bring in some pieces that they have from their home,” said Sakalas.

With the support of some grant funding, Loretto invested $750,000 into the new 30-room unit. Sakalas said Loretto’s research shows, in central New York, the need for memory care services is high. Across the state, 410,000 senior citizens are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to grow by about 15% by 2025.

Loretto put together an action plan to address the need.

"We continue to work with our referring partners,” said Sakalas. “We talk to and look at our referral sources when it comes to what they're seeing and discharge planning, being able to then help support the hospitals.

The new unit will follow the Montessori approach, using memory cues, daily routines, and activities to support residents’ care. It’s scheduled to open January 2.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.