Senior Lifestyles

First phase of senior community renovation nearly complete

The new health center at The Terraces at Los Altos boasts an exterior that blends into the architecture of the neighborhood. Private rooms with baths will be move-in ready by the end of the month. Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

The finish line is in sight for a critical component of a long-awaited construction project in Los Altos.

Rae Holt, executive director of The Terraces at 373 Pine Lane, told the Town Crier that the senior living community’s new two-story health center aims to be “move-in ready” for residents no later than the fourth week of March. The completed facility, located at the corner of Pine and Los Altos Avenue, is the first part of a three-phase, $100 million project to renovate and expand the community formerly known as Pilgrim Haven.

“We’re just thrilled. Our team members here are thrilled, as are our residents and their families,” said Holt.

The Grove

The community’s new health center will feature two distinct services – The Grove and The Village – offered by The Terraces, which is owned and operated by parent company American Baptist Homes of the West (ABHOW).

The Grove is a 16-unit memory-care program for seniors afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia. The specialized unit uses ABHOW’s “Best Friends Approach” in supporting seniors who experience memory loss. Created by author and dementia-care expert David Troxel, the approach emphasizes safety, socialization and memory-stimulating techniques.

“There are people and systems in place here to really help that person with dementia experience life fully,” said Holt, who noted that every team member at The Grove is required to learn 100 things about each resident as part of the Best Friends Approach.

Among the unique features of the memory-care unit are memory boxes located outside each resident’s unit. According to Karen Purtich, a consultant working as fund development coordinator for The Terraces, the boxes fall in line with Troxel’s program because they are designed to contain specific keepsakes and other personal items meant to stimulate the resident’s memory.

“The idea is, rather than having just the person’s name on the door, (the memory boxes) might have things like family photos or certificates – such as college degrees. It’s a way for them to know that this is their residence,” said Purtich, who also noted that The Grove features amenities such as a library, a “country style” kitchen with a seating configuration that promotes socialization among residents by eating meals together.

The memory-care unit also includes an atrium – sponsored by donors and longtime senior community supporters Guy and Virginia Farthing – a resident lounge area and gardens for residents and their visiting family members to enjoy.

“We don’t focus on the disabilities, but rather the abilities of our residents,” Holt said. “We look at our residents as whole people.”

The Village

The facility will also include a second-floor skilled-nursing program, The Village. Described by Holt as a place that emphasizes the “vitality, engagement and enjoyment of life,” The Village offers onsite rehabilitation services and houses up to 30 short- and long-term residents in private and semiprivate rooms.

The specialized care unit, which received a five-star rating – the highest possible – from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, includes 24-hour nursing and other amenities such as a beauty salon and housekeeping and laundry services. Similar to The Grove, noted Holt, The Village also includes features aimed at socialization and promoting health.

“Our view is that it takes a lot of specialized people to care for others in skilled nursing,” he said. “In that way, it is like a village.”

More work ahead

While the senior community’s health center has taken shape, Holt readily concedes that there’s plenty of work still to be done. He noted that the second phase of The Terraces’ construction project is slated to begin in April with the demolition of its former health center. The site will be the future home of The Lodge – an assisted-living facility that will feature 28 new residences.

The second phase is expected to take eight months to complete, according to Holt.

The final phase for the community, which calls for the construction of 81 new one- and two-bedroom independent-living apartments, likely won’t begin until early 2015, he added. The final leg of the project – which includes 99 underground parking spaces – will take 18 months to complete.

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The Terraces prepare to open - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

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