New Center for Seniors With Memory Loss to Open May 4

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The new Don & Beth Straus Center for seniors with memory loss is scheduled to open on May 4.

Debra Chalmers, director of Adult Day Services at the new Don & Beth Straus Center for seniors with memory loss in Southwest Harbor, arranges one of many items designed to encourage tactile stimulation. The center is scheduled to open May 4.
The new facility is located adjacent to the Community Health Center at 16 Community Lane in Southwest Harbor.

“My years of experience at Birch Bay Village and looking at what works in their memory loss unit, Safe Harbor, went into the details here,” said Straus Center Director of Adult Day Services Debra Chalmers.

When designing the facility, named for two longtime Somesville residents whose philanthropic support helped start the program, Chalmers took into account all the senses — sight, hearing, touch and taste.

“Everything here is chosen with a deliberate purpose,” said Chalmers.

Colors have been carefully selected for everything from the walls to furniture.

“The color of the walls are a soothing earth tone,” said Chalmers.

A contrast of colors was chosen for the furnishings to help people move around independently.

Music will be selected to maintain the balance of calm and stimulation.

“Music can help people connect with others and become active,” said Chalmers.

Local artist Nancy Diedrickson has painted a flower-filled mural on the wall that will greet members when they come in.

Items on the shelves, such as books and carvings, have been chosen to encourage and stimulate touch.

“We have chosen items that are designed for tactile stimulation. We want people to feel free to pick things up and use them,” said Chalmers.

Meals will be prepared as an activity and as another means to excite the senses.

For caregivers and community members interested in memory loss issues, the Straus Center will also offer educational programs.

An open house will be held in July to provide the public with an opportunity to tour the new facility.

For information on the center, or to be added to its mailing list for upcoming events, call Chalmers at 244-3267.