Assisted Living Facility’s Mock Town

A remarkable thing is taking place in Ohio, where residents are part of a community dedicated to their quality of life and well-being. The Lantern, a provider of assisted living services, has an innovative take on dementia and Alzheimer’s therapy which encourages memory stimulation through environment. Its Svayus program is housed within carefully designed facilities that mimic neighborhoods from the 1930s and ‘40s. The three sites located throughout the northeastern Ohio region are a reflection of the communities they are located in, including one with a golf course. CEO Jean Makesh began with a vision for Svayus where at the heart, clients continue to be interactive and engaged in their worlds regardless of their diagnosis.


According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 in 3 senior adults dies after suffering from Alzheimer’s or another dementia. With over five million people living with the disease as of 2016, friends and family members spend a lot of time and funds to care for their loved ones. Some are able to hire a caregiver, while others look to nursing or assisted living facilities for help. Finding a place that will treat your family like their own family can be difficult, and here is where Lantern succeeds. The unique environment, dedicated staff, and visionary leader are a combined force that are helping patients and their caregivers cope with dementia.

Inside the walls of Lantern’s facilities, residents are able to walk on floors that look like grass or stony pathways. Their residences don’t look like standard rooms on the outside either. The stark clinical setting doesn’t exist here nor does the décor of a busy hotel. Like homes of yesteryear, the exteriors are painted to invoke small town, homey vibes that remind clients of a time gone by. Details such as the paint colors have a therapeutic purpose as well. Soft greens, and warm reds and yellows welcome you.  Also present are a little waterfall, porches bedecked with lights, rocking chairs, and the sounds of chirping birds. The ceiling resembles a sky, where the sun shines during day and darkens at night, activating the porch lights. “Shops” line the walkways and clients can relax and chat with each other on a stroll down its “Main Street”. Aromatherapy scents are released throughout the space to help allay anxiety, or bring feelings of joy and peace.

Here, time travel is real. According to Makesh, the atmosphere is meant to encourage memory retention by keeping folks linked with their pasts. Along with the stimulating environment, the program provides a range of rehabilitation treatments including occupational therapy, psychotherapy, and speech therapy. Residents are assessed according to their abilities, and are also involved in classes throughout the day. Extras like fitness, manicures, movie screenings, and a spa are also offered. The aim is to keep them learning, doing, and caring for themselves and maybe even be able to return home. The world of Svayus is built on maintaining as much independence as is possible, while creating a sense of belonging too.