Oakmont of Santa Clarita intends to raise the bar for memory care in senior living by establishing new “Traditions” at its recently completed property north of Los Angeles. The 85,852-square-foot community features 60 assisted living apartments and 20 memory care apartments on 7.5 acres.

Although it features a host of top-shelf amenities ranging from a movie theater and day spa to a pet park and wellness center, it is the Traditions memory care program that serves as the marquee attraction for residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Traditions offers residents a safe and comfortable environment with multiple opportunities for social engagement and physical exercise such as yoga, stretching, strengthening and walking, and brain fitness classes to stimulate mental acuity, says Crystal Robinson, vice president of sales and marketing. One of the most interesting features is an indoor aviary where residents can view the hatching and tending of new chicks, Robinson says. The courtyard allows residents to enjoy the warm California sun or harvest fresh vegetables from the resident garden. Activity stations are designed to help residents recall meaningful or familiar hobbies from their pasts.

Wandering paths through private gardens will allow program residents to have guided outside walks. Tactile art decorates the hallways for sensory stimulation. For added safety, in-room motion detectors notify caregivers if a resident has gotten up in the middle of the night, and memory boxes are set up outside of residents’ rooms both to help them identify their apartment and to allow families to tell their story.

“It’s very close to my heart because I had a personal experience with my own mom with Alzheimer’s, so I am just very, very excited to be a part of this particular part of Oakmont,” says Marketing Director Mary Dembkowski. “Traditions will be a separate wing of the community, entirely dedicated to providing specialized care that meets the needs of those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It offers a secured environment where our families feel like their loved ones are safe in a home-like setting, with features designed to give residents all the dignity that they deserve.”

Construction started in early 2015, and the grand opening took place last month. The community is designed for independent and assisted living as well as memory care residents. There are 80 pet-friendly studio, one- and two-bedroom apartment homes with floorplans that range from 400 to 1,300 square feet. 

The movie theater features comfortable leather seats and has two showings a day with freshly popped popcorn. A bistro offers coffee, tea and snacks throughout the day, and the restaurant-style dining room boasts a brick pizza oven and rotisserie as well as a private dining room with fireplace for residents to host family and friends.

The new-generation community was built to resemble a five-star hotel, Robinson says, to impress the baby boomers in the present and future.

“For many people, the only experience they have had with senior living is what they have seen on TV and in movies, which usually depicts a hospital-like facility where the food is terrible and everyone sits around with nothing to do,” she says. “So it is a great relief to the families and future residents who walk through our doors when the first impression they have is that they have entered a boutique hotel. A concierge greets them in the lobby, there is a full and interesting calendar of excursions and activities, and everyone is raving about the chef.”