Valley of the Sun, AZ

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Innovative Senior Living — Redefining the Journey

 The Summit at Sunland Springs January 07, 2016
By Leslie A. Davis, Certified Dementia Practitioner

The Summit at Sunland Springs represents decades of experience and hard work as a new chapter of senior housing for Farnsworth Communities. Since 1958, Farnsworth Development has built thousands of homes in the East Valley and earned a reputation for quality construction and outstanding customer service. As time went on, the home owners began asking about the next step, and hoped that the Farnsworth’s would build an Assisted Living community so when the need for more assistance came, they’d have the opportunity to stay in their own familiar neighborhood. The Summit at Sunland Springs was conceived with this notion and in January of 2013, we opened the doors of our Memory Care community. Phase II, the Assisted Living community, will open late 2016. Through Father and Son, the Ahlstrom’s continue the Farnsworth legacy in its’ fourth generation of providing senior housing, thus continuing the tradition of excellence that has been handed down through the years.

The Present — Memory Care
The Summit at Sunland Springs’ Memory Care community allows those living with a diagnosis of dementia to live with dignity and respect in a secure setting. With specialized programming and monthly dementia-specific training for all caregivers, the Summit at Sunland Springs offers comprehensive memory care services for those needing additional assistance as they deal with the effects of dementia.

With the focus solely on memory care, the environment is specifically designed and the entire staff   united in the mission of delivering compassionate care, while allowing for as much independence as possible. Everyone wants to feel they have purpose and our approach to each person, as an individual with unique needs, helps them to know that they are understood, loved, and respected.

The Summit prides itself on bringing the regular routines of life back to the residents. In our daily adult lives, we worked, shopped, had dinner with friends, celebrated with family, danced, drank coffee together, worked in the garden, talked sports, etc. The memory of these routines doesn’t just all go away with short term memory loss. These routines are ingrained in us from a lifetime of doing them. The signature - In the Moment Memory CareTM, utilized at The Summit, is designed to help our residents get the most out of life while meeting them wherever in their life their mind has them living at present. At one point in the day, Larry might be trying to get to work. We know that Larry hasn’t worked in 20 years, but what we say to Larry is, “Okay, let’s get you to the office!” Maxine might want to help set the lunch tables, because this is what she has done for the last 52 years in her own home. “Wonderful, here are the napkins, thank you for helping out Maxine!”  We meet our residents where they are at in their reality and, therefore, reduce their level of agitation and anxiety. Owner, Craig Ahlstrom, Jr. is famous for reminding the staff that once they enter The Summit’s secured doors, they are entering the residents’ home and  everything should always be, “rainbows and butterflies” for our residents. Our goal is to make every day as pleasant as possible for them.

The Environment
At The Summit, each resident has their own studio — a quiet place to retreat to when feeling a bit overwhelmed. The Summit includes features like a continuous path throughout the community so residents can amble about in a safe and temperature controlled environment year round, without getting caught in corners. Our many sitting areas and common areas invite residents to gather in easy chairs around the fireplace or sit at a community table and visit with others. The large, enclosed courtyard allows residents to lounge outdoors, garden, or tinker on the putting green, all while getting sunshine and lots of fresh air.

Those with memory loss often seek the company of others and need quite a bit of input, reassurance, and assistance to navigate their day. When left to loose ends, memory care residents often cannot clearly express what they need and they can act out in frustration. The Summit staff provides that needed companionship, in tune with each resident’s personality, likes, and dislikes. We have regular memory care-specific training that teaches our caregivers techniques to encourage the residents to eat and to participate in activities, which in turn helps our seniors feel purposeful and less anxious.

A Valued Resource
Among the many testimonials from families, a nice summary of the assistance provided at The Summit: “Placing our Mom at The Summit was the best choice we could have made for her care. Since she has been there, she has started taking part in group activities, eating great, and comments on how happy she is. The personal care she gets at The Summit far exceeds the care she was getting before. There is no way I can explain the improvement in all of our lives since placing her at The Summit. The staff is very caring and always looks for ways to help the families. They are very warm and caring and they understand how difficult it is for families to make this huge decision. My life as the main caregiver has completely changed for the better. I know that my Mom is really cared for as an individual.” –Marian D.

At The Summit, we are passionate about being a trusted resource for seniors and adult children helping out their parents. We can assist with transitioning a loved one to memory care and we provide coping skills for families, via our monthly education seminars and support groups, all free to the public.

The Future — Assisted Living
The Summit is very excited to offer an Assisted Living community opening in the Fall of 2016, which will be physically attached to the present Memory Care. This new addition is designed for those who want to maintain their independence, but also want to be in a setting where care is available if or when needed. Renderings and floorplans are on our website: or by contacting The Summit.

To discuss the personal needs of a family member, the right timing for transitioning to a care community, or to tap into our many resources, please contact Leslie Davis.

The Summit at Sunland Springs is located at 2415 S. Signal Butte Road, Mesa. Please call 480-378-0015 or visit us at

In The Moment Memory Care™

In The Moment Memory Care™ is the signature program offered by The Summit at Sunland Springs. The program encompasses the whole person’s needs from creating structure and routine of home, providing for the idiosyncrasies and variations of daily care and life enrichment of the mind, body and spirit. We explore their full history as a person and bring the moments of familiarity, purpose and joy into their lives.

Our Six Elements of Engagement Are:
Physical Engagement
Community Connections
Spiritual Support
Continuing Education
Artistic Expression
Lifestyle and Leisure

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January 07, 2016
Keywords:  Feature Story

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