by Beth Potter
LONGMONT – Folks who want to live at the new 56-apartment AltaVita Memory Care Center will have access to a specially designed outdoor patio.
An inner courtyard surrounded by the 36,000-square-foot complex makes up the patio area – just one of the amenities being built in the new complex on the southeast corner of Fordham Street and Ceran Avenue in Longmont.
Four “pods” radiate off the courtyard, each with room for 14 to 16 residents, said Haleh Nekoorad-Long, a geriatric psychiatrist and the medical director for the center, which is slated to open in April.
Lantz-Boggio Architects PC had Alzheimer’s patients and other dementia patients in mind when it designed the patio and the circular environment layout, which allows residents to walk around without leaving the building, Nekoorad-Long said. All rooms will have natural light as well.
“Sunlight has been shown to help with agitation and insomnia for those with dementia,” Nekoorad-Long said.
All outer doors on the complex will be kept locked to keep residents from wandering away unexpectedly. But indoors, they’ll enjoy a full slate of activities along with amenities such as an ice cream parlor and a fitness center, Nekoorad-Long said.
“We’re going to make it as pleasant as possible. For anyone who moves in, we’ll make it a home for them,” Nekoorad-Long said.
Longtime Longmont real estate developer Don Macy of M2MC LLC partnered with the Nekoorad-Long Group on the new facility, which is being financed through a loan from from the Twin Peaks branch of the FirstBank of Colorado. Nekoorad-Long will relocate her private practice, Colorado Mood and Memory Clinic, to the site.
Residents will pay privately for their care at the facility, with prices expected to range between $5,000 and $10,000 per month, depending on the services provided, said Linda Berens, executive director. All meals are included, as is housekeeping and laundry service, she said. Personal-care services such as help with showers and other personal hygiene will cost extra. Pricing is meant to be at a lower level than what skilled nursing facilities cost, Berens pointed out.
“It’s an economical option, (and) it’s also a much more homelike environment,” Berens said. “Every apartment is a private apartment, and they bring their own things from home.”
In the future, AltaVita is expected to add other retirement living and health-care options, including age-restricted living areas, nursing home care and short-term rehabilitation services, Macy said. Macy said he worked on the project for about four years – joking that by the time all of it is approved and built, he can be a senior who lives somewhere in the related buildings.
Potential public funding from the federal department of Housing and Urban Development was scrapped because of the current national uncertainty over health-care funding, Macy said.
“It does not involve Medicare or Obamacare or Medicaid. That’s why we decided to do it this way, instead of a nursing home,” Macy said. “Memory care is in big demand for a lot of people all over the country, and in Colorado.”
As people live longer, the number of dementia cases seems to continue to grow, Berens said. Colorado had 72,000 Alzheimer’s patients in 2010, a number expected to be about 111,000 in 2025 based on demographics of the aging population, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, a national group with Colorado offices.
“We’ve seen an influx of people with memory issues … specifically, we’re seeing an influx of diagnosis with Alzheimer’s,” Berens said. “Who knows really why, we just are seeing it.”
There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but residents will be offered activities that help stimulate their brain so they hopefully can continue to function at whatever level they’re at when they come to the facility, Berens said.
Residents in the early stages of Alzheimer’s are reminded to take notes and keep other reminders to help them continue to stay active, for example, Berens said.
“The people, themselves, they kinda know that something’s not right, but it’s very frightening,” Berens said.
Alzheimer’s disease is the six-leading cause of death among all ages of patients in the United States and the fifth-leading cause of death for patients 65 and older. Colorado saw 1,109 Alzheimer’s deaths in 2007, the most recent period for which statistics were available.