SOURCE: Abe's Garden

Abe's Garden

August 17, 2015 13:29 ET

Evidence-Based Residential Model Opens for Those With Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Loss

Abe's Garden Is the First Memory Care Community in the United States Founded to Demonstrate and Disseminate Evidence-Based Best Practices in Architecture and Interior Design, Dining, Lighting, Staff Training, Family Communication and Interactions, and Engagement Activities

NASHVILLE, TN--(Marketwired - Aug 17, 2015) -  It's been ten years in the making. Now construction is complete and previews of Abe's Garden, in Nashville, Tenn., are beginning. Abe's Garden is the first memory care community founded to demonstrate and nationally disseminate best practices and research to improve the lives of families, individuals, and care partners whose lives are impacted by Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Specifically, principle focus areas are: environmental design; person centered care; staff training; and support for families.

After years of studying research and collaborating with industry leaders and research centers, Abe's Garden has created a one-of-a-kind residential and day/evening care campus grounded in evidence-based best practices that inform everything from a 24-hour lighting scheme to landscape design featuring an outdoor kitchen and grill, fireplace, raised garden beds, and an interactive water feature. A new line of gerontologist-designed resident suite furniture is another feature that will support physical and behavioral changes common in older adults with dementia. The furnishings promote mobility, and maximize safety and independence, including helping reduce falls, supporting personal interests and involvement in activities of daily living. 

Numerous other elements of the community are also designed to foster engagement in activities that residents and day/evening care participants have enjoyed throughout their lives. These are being implemented with the goal of maintaining physical and cognitive capabilities for as long as possible. 

Nationally recognized aging design, gerontology, technology, and lighting industry leaders, contributed to the development of Abe's Garden, and features include:

  • Three family-size households with themes of Arts & Lifelong Learning, Connection to Nature, and Music & Movement
  • Capacity for 42 residents and 15 adult day care/evening care participants
  • Kitchens designed to encourage resident participation in table setting and meal preparation
  • Meals that focus on a slow, relaxing dining experience in which courses are served one at a time, without the use of trays, and staff members dine with residents to facilitate conversation and foster friendships
  • Ample natural and state-of-the-art lighting to support circadian rhythms, reduce glare and minimize shadows, all of which are critical concerns for people with dementia
  • Outdoor themed gardens, a water feature, covered walking path, a backyard grill and fireplace
  • Pursuit of LEED certification
  • Specially designed beds, chairs, sleep-preserving amber lit night tables and a personalized engagement center that encourages activity

In collaboration with the Hearthstone Institute, founded by John Zeisel, Ph.D., Abe's Garden care partner, management, dining, housekeeping, and maintenance staff receive ongoing dementia specific training. The primary focus is enhancing lives and minimizing challenging behaviors during all stages of memory loss. John Zeisel, who has spent more than 20 years researching, writing on and developing non-pharmacological approaches and interventions for people living with Alzheimer's and other dementias, will be on site at the opening of Abe's Garden and available for media interviews. Zeisel wrote "I'm Still Here," which is backed by more than two decades of research and will serve as a key element of staff training and at Abe's Garden. Although there is no cure for Alzheimer's, Zeisel's research and training focuses on enhancing the quality of life for individuals affected by dementia and diminishing the severity and frequency of their symptoms. 

Care partners at Abe's Garden will be empowered and trained to provide care that recognizes and values the individual differences in each resident. The organization will support stronger than average care partner-to-resident ratios and, unique to this segment of the caregiving industry, its staff will work in an environment with a career ladder that rewards their performance and provides evidence-based training by a full-time gerontologist with more than 30 years of experience.

Through its affiliation with the Vanderbilt Center for Quality Aging, Abe's Garden's programs and environment will continue to evolve, based on assessments and outcome data shared between the two organizations. A mutual goal is to share data, outcomes and information with organizations throughout the nation in order to transform the care of millions with Alzheimer's, making Abe's Garden a national model. 

"I want to thank our board of directors and the many members of this community who have given their time, talent and treasure to this endeavor," said Michael Shmerling, founder of Abe's Garden and the son of Dr. Abram C. "Abe" Shmerling, after whom the organization was named. "More than 5 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer's and there is no cure at this time. It is the sixth leading cause of death and costs more than $200 billion in care annually. 

"Our work is just beginning with the opening of this wonderful and one-of-a-kind community. As we grow, learn and share our successes with senior care communities, businesses and researchers, Abe's Garden will become a national model for the care of those with this debilitating disease." 

About Abe's Garden
Abe's Garden is a 501(c)3 organization founded in 2007. Skanska was the construction manager for the 36,000 square foot project which broke ground in the fall of 2013.

See attached media advisories.

Interviews available. Contact Sophie Laster-Hazard at DVL Seigenthaler at 615.610.0321 or

  • The vision and the history: Abe's Garden Founder Michael Shmerling 
  • "I'm Still Here" daily engagement model: Dr. John Zeisel
  • Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director: Dr. Andrew Sandler, Abe's Garden
  • Person-Centered Care Training:: Beverly Patnaik
  • Furnished Living furniture: Jennie Bucove

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