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Elderly woman holding a picture of her younger self. Dementia Care Help

Willow Gardens: Westchester’s Newest Memory Care Residence

Willow Gardens Memory Care is Westchester’s only nonprofit assisted living residence devoted exclusively to Alzheimer’s and dementia care.

To learn more, call 914-336-2338, or schedule a tour now.

We’re thrilled to introduce the latest addition to our Campus of Comprehensive Care: Willow Gardens Memory Care, Westchester’s only nonprofit assisted living residence devoted exclusively to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. We invite you to take a tour of our newest facility, which enables United Hebrew to take a critical leap forward in the treatment of memory disorders, just as the need is rising.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, and unless one is found, we need to brace for a growing wave of people with the progressive, irreversible illness and other memory disorders that is barreling toward us as Baby Boomers reach their senior years.

Age, after all, is the biggest factor in developing the disorders. Nationwide, Alzheimer’s affects more than 5.3 million Americans, nearly all of them – 5.1 million – aged 65 or older. Indeed, one in 10 seniors is affected. And the number of seniors affected nationwide is expected to almost triple to 13.8 million by 2050.

With a populace that is slightly older than the country as a whole, Westchester is sure to continue seeing its share of memory disorders. Willow Gardens Memory Care is certain to be a leader in the treatment of Alzheimer’s in the Hudson Valley, where 40,000 people are affected by the disease, according to the region’s chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. By 2025, that number is expected to rise to 50,000.

While Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed, there is much we can do for those affected by it. We can treat those affected by it with skill, wisdom and compassion, if we operate facilities that treat each person for who he or she is – not a statistic, but an individual with a lifetime of experiences; a mother, a father, a grandparent, a sibling.

Living with dignity

Alzheimer’s and dementia care requires institutions and healthcare professionals who are trained to extend care, respect and understanding to each person to help them live with dignity and a high quality of life. It also means having the training to help family members cope with the realization that their aging parent, aunt or uncle may not recognize them, and may behave in ways that seem strange to them.

As geriatric specialists, we recognize that one-size care does not fit all. People’s needs evolve as they age, and the level of care must increase. Understanding this, our organization has evolved, too, offering different levels of supportive care on one campus: independent living, assisted living, short-term rehab facilitated by Burke Rehabilitation, and long-term nursing care.

It Takes a Village

Residences that focus exclusively on people with Alzheimer’s and memory impairment are the logical next step in meaningful care. Research shows that socialization is key to maintaining and enhancing a person’s quality of life. Alzheimer’s is less jarring and easier to cope with when people affected by it spend their days among others with similar conditions.

At United Hebrew of New Rochelle, our experience has shown that it is beneficial to train everyone who interacts with people affected by dementia – not just the nurses and other healthcare professionals – to understand the disease and how it affects a person. Our staff members are taught to show patience in the face of the frustration that comes as the disease takes away a person’s memories and ability to perform even simple functions. They are taught that a resident who repeats a question may have no memory of having asked it just a short time ago.

We have been caring for memory-impaired residents in dedicated spaces throughout our 90+ year history. Willow Gardens will bring the next step in our growth, bringing them together in one dedicated residential community. (Residents with mid-level dementia will live on the first floor while those with advanced conditions will reside on the second.)

The separate residence on our campus will allow the staff to focus solely on caring for people with dementia. To offer them the attention they need, the residence will be run with seven staff members for each resident, a higher ratio than the skilled nursing home. Residents will benefit from the freedom to roam the residence and to stroll a secure walking garden on the ground floor. They will be kept engaged with activities such as music and art therapy will be tailored to meet their needs.

Countering “sundowning”

People with Alzheimer’s often show symptoms that increase or intensify in the afternoon or evening. To counter such “sundowning,” or late-day confusion, therapeutic and recreational activities at Willow Gardens will continue into the night, ending at 7 or 8 p.m.

Soon there may be a cure for Alzheimer’s. Every day, it seems, researchers make advances in understanding the condition. Let’s hope they bear fruit.

But until the day comes when the disease is wiped out, healthcare professionals must continue to provide more places where residents affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias can enjoy a high quality of life, remain active and even find moments of joy. Willow Gardens promises to set a new standard for such facilities.