In 20 days after opening on April 11, 27 people moved into the Manor Lake Assisted Living & Memory Care.
Located off of McEver Road in Gainesville, the 68,000-square-foot facility can accommodate up to 94 residents — 34 for its memory care unit and 60 for the assisted living side.
It is one of two Manor Lake homes. The first one opened in Canton last October.
Drema Thompson, the Gainesville facility’s executive director, said the typical age range at Manor Lake includes those in their 80s.
Manor Lake brings activities found outside of homes into the comfort of the facility. Inside the assisted living home people can visit a spa, get a haircut at the salon, have an appointment with a nurse, watch a movie in the mini theater and receive meals from Michael Cannova, an Italian chef.
“I’m one cloud away from heaven,” 80-year-old, Chuck Ulrich said. “I think you can have the nicest place in the world, and if you don’t have a compassionate staff, it would fail. These people are wonderful.”
Residents have the option of choosing from a range of scheduled activities including visits from dogs, Bible discussions, exercise lessons, outings and games geared to sharpen people’s minds.
Those who qualify for Manor Lake’s memory unit are diagnosed with either dementia or Alzheimer’s. They stay in separate quarters from the assisted living residents, but can still can interact with them.
The memory unit offers an interactive program called, It’s Never Too Late. Residents can virtually drive a car, fly a plane, find their old homes on Google Earth and play computer games.
“It’s just wonderful,” Thompson said. “One resident found their hometown in Germany. It keeps the mind going in the process.”
Manor Lake has a staff of 32, and plans to grow as more people move into the facility. Currently 36 people live there.
Ulrich, who recently experienced the death of his wife, said the employees have cared for him both emotionally and with his diabetes.
“It’s rewarding to know that you make a difference in some of these residents’ lives,” Debbie Walden, the facility’s business office manager said. “We feel like it’s their home and we want to make it their home.”
When a resident moves into an assisted living home, Thompson said most of the time “they’re going to stay here until they pass away.”
Thompson has 50 years worth of experience working in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Over those decades she has fostered relationships with people up until their deaths.
“In my early days, it was heartbreaking,” she said. “I’ve learned to accept that it’s a part of life.”
Walden said she still finds the death of residents difficult, especially those who made a strong impression on her.
She will never forget one lady in particular, who held a negative reputation at the assisted living home, but found her way into Walden’s heart.
“Everybody always said that she was so mean,” Walden said. “She’d come up to the front desk in her wheelchair, talk to me and always wanted me to light her cigarettes. Her name was Mary, and she was a loving person to me.”
One of Walden’s favorite questions to ask resident elderly couples is, “What’s the secret to your long marriage?”
“I love hearing their stories about what they did growing up, what their job was and how many kids they had,” she said. “I can talk to them about everything. I love it, it’s rewarding.”
Every morning when Thompson comes into work she makes her rounds greeting residents and finding ways to meet their needs. Making one person happy is worth all the effort to her, she said.
“We are a very loving community and we’re all about the residents,” Walden said. “We have a great executive director, Drema, who listen to us and listens to the residents. She is really amazing.”
Manor Lake, which is located at 2900 McEver Road in Gainesville, will hold an open house and ribbon cutting from 2-4 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25.
For more information about Manor Lake, visit manorlakegv.com or call 678-940-1101.