The Future of Memory Care is coming to Lancaster County

The Marlin and Doris Thomas Memory Center has officially broken ground at Willow Valley Communities.

We’ve all been touched by dementia and memory loss, so when Willow Valley Communities founded the Willow Valley Communities Charitable Foundation in 2017, the Foundation’s first project was to launch a capital campaign for a life-changing Memory Center that would serve the Lancaster community. The “This is Personal” campaign set out to raise $20 million of philanthropic support for the construction of the Memory Center and the establishment of a permanent endowment, which will be used to offset operating expenses of the Memory Center and provide world-class education and support to Team Members, caregivers, and the community. 

As the official groundbreaking of the Marlin and Doris Thomas Memory Center took place in April of 2024, the Foundation and all who have been a part of this important work are eagerly anticipating its completion which will take place in early 2026. 

Located on the Lakes Campus, the Memory Center will boast seven acres of secure space to tend to the mind, body, and spirit of Residents living with dementia and their caregivers. The Memory Center will comprise of two primary components: The Commons building, often referred to as the Town Center, and Households, often referred to as the suburbs. Unlike traditional models, Residents who call the Memory Center home will be able to explore the secure campus as they please, exercising their autonomy and holding their dignity to the highest of standards.

“With advocacy and support, the conversation is changing. We are proud to be reducing the stigma and transforming the lives of those impacted by dementia.”

Lauren A. Renehan, Executive Director of the Willow Valley Communities Charitable Foundation 

With an emphasis on normalizing dementia and reducing stigma, the design and programming of the Memory Center will focus on creating a supportive and welcoming environment for all. Amenities will foster independence and encourage the highest level of functioning for those living with memory loss.

Design features to aid in wayfinding, technology, and other safeguards will ensure Memory Center Residents are safe and will not be able to leave the secure zone without a Team Member or family member. Naturally lit spaces will help to reset circadian rhythms and minimize confusion, and calming, communal areas will be inviting to friends and family as they spend quality time with their loved ones. Dedicated assessment, education, and Adult Day Centers will transform the way care is provided to those living with dementia.

The Memory Center will operate as a person-centered Assisted Living community with an above-average staffing ratio. Adapting the environment to promote clarity, integration, and sensory engagement will provide an unequivocal dimension of support with each component of this Center demonstrating the future of memory care.

Embrace the Journey Forward:

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