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At a glance
•Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States
•More than 5 million Americans are living with the disease
•In 2013, Alzheimer’s will cost the nation $203 billion; this amount is expected to rise to $1.2 trillion by 2050
Source: Alzheimer’s Association
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
The Towne House Retirement Community on St. Joe Center Road announced plans for a $3 million memory care center. The 19,000-square-foot expansion could bring an additional 15 jobs that pay $8 to $25 an hour.

Towne House adds to memory care

A senior citizen complex is responding to a growing number of Alzheimer’s patients with a $3 million expansion.

The Towne House Retirement Community will break ground today on a 19,000-square-foot memory care center at its 25-acre campus at 2209 St. Joe Center Road. The development could result in up to 15 full-time jobs, ranging from $8 to $25 an hour.

BHI Senior Living of Indianapolis is the parent company of Towne House. The company also has two other Indiana locations in Indianapolis and Columbus.

Executive Director Dan Karr said the Fort Wayne complex has 240 residents, but those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia-type illnesses require their own space.

“It will be very residential in nature and only 18 rooms, since memory care patients do better in small groupings,” he said. “It won’t feel institutional or like a nursing home.”

Residents will be able to congregate in a great room at the memory care center that will feature homey furniture, paintings and other personal touches. Unique to the area is a large kitchen area that will double as a nurses’ station.

And traditional paper patient charts will be replaced by laptop computers.

“The same thing you would see at someone’s house is what we’re trying to achieve,” Karr said. “All of the rooms will be private, so there’s no long hallway to walk down to get to the bathroom. We’re also looking at putting animal feeders outside so they can see them.”

And maybe even listen to the critters.

Karr said officials are exploring placing sound equipment outside that would allow residents in the memory care center to hear nature sounds.

“We want it to be something different,” Karr said.

Founded in 1965, Towne House has seen many changes in the senior care industry. Karr said the center is attempting to offer modern amenities that buck the stereotypical nursing home.

Maureen Widner is vice president of consumer and community engagement for Aging & In-Home Services of Northeast Indiana. The nonprofit organization services 20,000 Alzheimer’s and dementia patients a year. She said a need exists for more memory care operations.

“The numbers are growing,” she said, referring to baby boomers who make up at least 12 percent of Allen County’s population. “We’re really happy when we see (businesses) offering these types of services.”