Loretto’s renovation at The Cunningham puts memory care in focus

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — There are small touches that will remind you of a home and a community throughout the 11th floor at The Cunningham, one of Loretto Health and Rehabilitation’s recent renovation projects.

About six months ago, Loretto announced a capital campaign project that would include major renovations and new construction to expand and enhance dementia care at The Nottingham in Jamesville, as well as The Heritage and The Cunningham on Loretto’s main campus in Syracuse.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the number of Americans age 65 and older living with memory loss – including Alzheimer’s and other dementia conditions – is projected to increase from 5.1 million in 2016 to 16 million in 2050. Close to 18% of that growth will be in New York state.

The goal was to leave the “institutional” nursing home setting behind and welcome a future of memory care that made residents feel like they are at home.

The Cunningham’s 11th floor unit is designed for the increasing number of older adults who are living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Inviting places to sit, nature scenes throughout, and specific flooring were part of the capital campaign project.

“Part of the project was to make it a more home-like environment but also to incorporate the sense of outdoors into the unit,” said Tom Schattinger, Loretto’s senior director of operations. “To use things that are very important on a memory care floor. To enhance the daily activities to include flooring to make such a difference because it’s very soft and in a color that is soothing versus a high gloss floor. We have a lot of lighting that is adjustable and filtered throughout the day, so the lighting includes LED lighting.”

Next to the community setting that includes a barber shop and beauty salon, light physical activity like dancing is also part of the routine. Plus, one-on-one time between staff and residents make a difference.

Schattinger says staff have commented the “soothing and more relaxed” feelings they have working on the 11th floor.

“The interventions and environment here allow the residents to sort of reconnect with some of those life roles and some of those habits and patterns that they really engaged with throughout their whole lives,” said Meg Mawhinney, assistant director of therapeutic recreation at Loretto.

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