From “day one,” Noel Manor Living’s first memory care facility was full.

The solution lies in a new facility just around the corner from its Prairie Way Blvd. campus, at The Legacy at Noel Manor, 435 Prairie Oaks Drive. The new 32-room facility is designed specifically for people with memory care-related illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Katie Rasmussen, director of Noel Manor, told the Press that only two-and-a-half years after Noel Manor was finished, there was additional need in the community for a facility centered on memory care.

“We’re going to transition our current memory care over here, so it essentially doubled our memory care (services),” she told the Press in January before The Legacy opened.

As of Jan. 28, the new facility is licensed by the state for 42 patients, Rasmussen said, while the original memory care facility held 16 at most.

The facility consists of 32 private studio apartments with a shared common area, dining room, lounge and outdoor patio. The building only has studio rooms, Rasmussen said, because with the original memory care unit, staff were finding that the one- and two-bedroom layouts weren’t being fully used, as patients were instead out engaging with staff and others.

The building was designed with the needs of memory care patients in mind, with low-tread carpeting to keep floor surfaces as consistent as possible, open layouts so patients don’t feel “boxed in” and barn doors in the apartments to eliminate obstacles for patients who are wheelchair-bound and to give the facility a home-y feel.

Even the layout of the hallways, with two wings of 16 apartments going each way from the common spaces, is designed to make memory care patients more comfortable, Rasmussen added, as looking down a long hallway can be “daunting” for a person with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

“The owners selected an architect that has experience building senior housing, and focused more on dementia-specific,” she said. “They wanted to make sure there was a lot of common area space and room for them to be in a group.”

The facility is staffed 24 hours a day, and includes additional amenities like a beauty salon and barber shop on-site, housekeeping and laundry services and faith-based activities.

The building is reflective of societal trends, marketing director Alissa Gauger said, as the rooms include cable jacks and wireless Internet – all amenities the Baby Boomer generation has gotten used to outside before coming to The Legacy.

“We’re seeing Boomers aging, and there’s an increasing percentage of people who are diagnosed with dementia,” she said.

The goal of both facilities, both the original Noel Manor Living building and the The Legacy, is to reduce the “institutional” feel and to create a place where people can feel like their dignity is being upheld as they age, Rasmussen said.

“A ton of people were surprised at how beautiful it is, and how much care and attention to detail the owners put into making it … look very nice and comfortable for people, even though maybe they’re not aware of it when they live here,” she said. “We just want to make sure it doesn’t matter what their disease is, everyone deserves that quality of life … we want them to feel like it is their home.”

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at kimberly.wethal@wcinet.com and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.