Arbor Terrace Ponte Vedra to celebrate first anniversary


Arbor Terrace Ponte Vedra will celebrate its one-year anniversary next month with a reception to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

While the facility will officially mark its first anniversary on June 8, the decision was made to connect the anniversary celebration with the “The Longest Day” campaign, a team event to raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer's Association held annually on the longest day of the year. To that end, Arbor Terrace will mark its anniversary June 20 with a wine and cheese party, silent auction and a musical performance by Priscilla Johnson, daughter of an Arbor Terrace Ponte Vedra resident.

“We figured that this is a great opportunity because of the specialty that we serve,” Executive Director John Schaum said. “It’s a good correlation for us to be very involved with the Alzheimer's Association along with being able to bring awareness to our public and also provide opportunities to raise some money for them and their research.”

Dedicated memory care

Located on Palm Valley Road, the assisted living facility focuses solely on serving residents with Alzheimer’s or other forms or dementia, with a total of 52 apartments for 64 residents.

Executive Director John Schaum said that over the past year, the facility has seen steady growth, both in residents and staff.

“We really look at our growth and try to space it out as much as we possibly can to be able to grow it at a steady rate so that our residents and families that are moving in can get acclimated,” said Schaum, noting that the facility is currently about 65 percent full.

Arbor Terrace Ponte Vedra is part of the Arbor Company, which along with local developer Whitehall Realty Partners opened Arbor Terrace Ortega in 2013, followed by Arbor Terrace Ponte Vedra, and the newly opened Arbor Terrace San Jose. The Arbor Company approach involves keeping memory care communities small in order to provide the most personal care to each resident.

All Arbor Terrace staff participate in an exclusive multilevel cognitive care education program and cognitive care training program specifically designed to teach how to positively interact with those with memory loss. The Engaged Living program, meanwhile, focuses on meeting individual needs of residents and is designed to enrich residents’ health and spirit.

“Our Engaged Living program is a huge piece of what makes Arbor Terrace so different from everybody else,” Senior Care Counselor Ilene Thrasher said. “Engaging that resident activity, providing socialization, providing structure to those residents every single day is what keeps that brain at an even level and hopefully not allow it to deteriorate so quickly.”

As memory loss progresses, Thrasher noted, different parts of the brain are affected, such as the language-based left-side of the brain, but rhythm, which is on the right-side of the brain, is something that dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers never lose. Because of that, music plays a large part in in the daily activities of Arbor Terrace residents. As part of the Music and Memory program, each resident has a personal iPod customized with his or her favorite music.

“Studies have shown that music is very comforting to a resident – particularly if it’s some variety of music that they are very familiar with,” Schaum said.

Another program designed to bring comfort to the residents is the Namaste program. Accompanied by a staff member in a peaceful, self-contained area, residents experience therapies such as massage or aromatherapy as a non-chemical intervention to help residents relax.

Arbor Terrace also holds community education and outreach events through community partnerships with the Ponte Vedra YMCA, The Plantation at Ponte Vedra Beach, and Nocatee’s Del Webb community. Among the programs the facility has made available to the public is the Virtual Dementia Tour, a sensory-altering experience where participants can physically experience what life is like for those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

“All of our staff are required to go through this virtual dementia tour, but we encourage the community to come in and go through it as well so the families really do understand what their loved ones are going through every single day of their lives,” Thrasher said. “It’s pretty powerful.”

Arbor Terrace Ponte Vedra also offers a “Life Enrichment Group” where dementia sufferers who are being cared for in the home can meet, engage and socialize twice a week while their caregivers and loved ones enjoy a brief respite. The group meets from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“I think we’re beginning to establish ourselves in the community as a provider for people who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s,” Schaum said. “I’m proud to say that feedback has been very positive in regards to the relationship with our community and helping our community be able to provide the care, treatment and guidance they may need for a loved one.”