Memory Care Two-Step: Senior Living Community to Double as Research Hub

Is it possible for memory care residents to waltz, foxtrot, or two-step their way to improved cognitive functioning? One soon-to-open community in New York aims to be the place to find out.

The Bristal at Lake Success, scheduled for a February 2017 opening, will be the first standalone memory care community for Bohemia, New York-based Bristal Assisted Living. The fully integrated senior housing developer, construction company, and management company already has 14 properties offering both assisted living and memory care. Ten are on Long Island, one in New Jersey, and one in Westchester County, New York. The Bristal at Lake Success will be located just off the Long Island Expressway, about 11 miles east of LaGuardia Airport.

Slated to have 88 suites, the Bristal at Lake Success not only will be the first standalone memory care community for the company but will stand out in another way—through a collaboration with the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

The Bristal at Lake Success

The Bristal at Lake Success

Based in Manhasset, New York, the Feinstein Institute is the non-profit research branch of Northwell Health and home to Peter Davis, Ph.D., a prominent Alzheimer’s disease researcher. A professor at Hofstra University, Davies also is the director of the Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer’s Disease at the Feinstein Institute.

Leaders of the Bristal began forging a relationship with Davies after hearing him speak at a Feinstein Institute ceremony, says Steven Krieger, a partner at Engel Berman, the Bristal’s development arm.

After an initial collaboration at an existing Bristal community, the senior living company now is going big in Lake Success, tailoring the building specifically for its collaboration with the Feinstein Institute. It is a first-of-its-kind approach to enabling research in a place where people with early-stage memory loss live, the Bristal believes.

The partnership is meant to create innovative memory care practices in the short-term and hopefully even greater achievements in the future, says Krieger.

Inspired by Early Success

The first program jointly run by the Bristal and the Feinstein Institute took place at the Bristal Assisted Living at North Hills, near the Lake Success location.

The response was “overwhelming” at North Hills, with most residents electing to participate if they were appropriate, says Krieger. The Bristal bought new exercise equipment needed for that protocol. In the new Lake Success building, a whole gym is being constructed with the exercise and weight-training program in mind.

“We’re hoping to see a direct correlation between increaese in resistance and improvement in memory impairment,” Krieger explains.

But this first protocol is just the tip of the iceberg, with space in the building dedicated to other programming as well. One that is particularly innovative: teaching residents to tango.

“We’re very interested in an opportunity for residents to have group ballroom dancing and one-on-one ballroom dancing,” says Krieger. “We have a separate ballroom set up for this to take place.”

The Feinstein-led programming will supplement the Bristal’s other individually paced memory care techniques, including reading circles, creative writing, art classes, and music classes.

While the Feinstein Institute workers will not be on the Bristal’s payroll, the Bristal at Lake Success will have dedicated office and research space for them.

All of this comes at a price, of course. The senior living operator could see a return on this capital outlay in the form of increased length of stay, if the programming helps residents maintain their well-being and cognitive health, preventing them from going to higher levels of care. Rent is planned to start at $8,800 a month, which is inclusive of most personal care assistance.

However, the financial considerations are not the only—or main—motivation for the partnership and the uniquely designed building, Krieger stresses. New treatments or even a cure for Alzheimer’s are the ultimate prize here.

“We want to do something for the betterment of mankind,” he says.

Written by Tim Mullaney