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Farmington expansion tailors technology for seniors

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Memory care building will soon accommodate 26 residents in Gresham.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Farmington Square, an assisted living facility in Gresham, is adding a new memory care unit, which is expected to be completed by this summer. Cutting-edge technology is not typically associated with seniors or senior care facilities, but the building being constructed at Farmington Square of Gresham will utilize some of the most innovative media available to connect clients struggling with memory loss with their comfort zones.

Farmington Square, at 1655 N.E. 18th St., which provides residency and care to seniors at all levels of need, started construction on its new building in late 2016. When it opens, with any luck by this summer, it will accommodate up to 26 new "memory care" residents, who will have access to a virtual window to their past and life passions.

The stream of Baby Boomers retiring and aging is creating a growing need for senior care facilities, including memory care for those suffering with dementia, Alzheimer's Disease or other cognitive deficiencies.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Farmington Square Executive Director Betty Aberg explains the details behind the senior care center's new memory care faciltiy that will cater to patients suffering from memory loss. "The population is aging everywhere, and so much more is known not only about long-term care but memory care overall," said Betty Aberg, Farmington Square's executive director. "So many are needing assistance (in ways that) modern medicine is able to identify. There is just an enhanced need for (memory care residences)."

The iN2L, or It's Never to Late to Learn, technology uses small and large touch-activated screens that display photos and video footage and other personalized content related to clients' lifelong interests and professional pursuits.

"If someone is, say, a farmer, during the part of the day they were used to plowing their fields and bailing their hay, (those images) appear on the screen," said Betty Aberg, Farmington Square's executive director. "They push on their picture and that will come up, their fields."

According to its website, the company's systems are installed at more than 2,000 senior living communities across the U.S. and other countries.

The new rooms are designed for double occupancy, which Aberg said provides a number of benefits for seniors, many of whom are entering the first new living environment they've experienced in decades.

"Their world shrinks, and they need to have someone around, even if it's someone they don't know, just to feel there's someone there," she noted.

Partial walls will provide a modicum of privacy and roommates will be carefully matched for interests and temperaments. "We don't want to just throw people together."

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Construction workers are busy at the site of Farmington Square's new 26-bed memory care facility for Alzheimers patients others suffering from memory loss.

Radiant, Farmington Square's parent company, operates 18 senior communities in four states. The soon-to-be five-building Gresham complex, which was established in 1986, will maximize its available space when the building is completed.

"Memory care is in demand everywhere right now," Aberg said, noting that Farmington's campus model of several small buildings appeals to many clients and their families. "We don't feel we compete with the larger communities. Not everyone can live in that (environment). What's most important is what are the needs of the resident and giving them the most quality of life."

The center will begin taking reservations for new clients in March as well as the hiring process for 15 to 20 new staff members to augment the current staff of about 65. While the construction schedule is dependent on the whims of the weather and other variables, Aberg is confident the finished product will be well worth the wait.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Construction of Farmington Square's new 26-unit memory care began in late 2016. "It's very exciting for us. Not only is it exciting for us, but it enables us to further serve elders, and the community at large, by moving forward with technological advances," she said, noting that Farmington Square remains at the forefront of advances regarding seniors who need memory care. "These changes provide an opportunity to test out new theories."