Village Concepts offers Virtual Dementia Tour at Brannan Park Retirement on Jan. 17

Village Concepts, a third-generation family-owned business helping seniors thrive in retirement and assisted living communities throughout the state, hosts a Virtual Dementia Tour event at the Brannan Park Retirement community in Auburn on Wednesday, Jan. 17.

The tour is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the retirement facility, 2901 I St. NE.

The tour offers the opportunity to better understand the mental and physical challenges that those living with dementia experience through a virtual simulation. Trained facilitators will guide participants throughout the exercise, which will emphasize completing everyday tasks while patented devices alter the senses in a way that closely resembles the effects of dementia on the mind and body.

This experiential program was designed to benefit caregivers and loved ones by allowing them to better understand and relate to those with dementia, which ultimately fosters communication and efficient delivery of care. Macular degeneration, arthritis, neuropathy and hearing problems are some complications of the disease. The simulation opens the door to increased empathy and patience.

For more information about the Virtual Dementia Tour or the Village Concepts senior living communities, visit or call 888-548-6609.

Construction Begins on Remodel for Woodland Village Senior Living Center in Chehalis

Members of the BPCI contracting company are joined by Woodland Village employees and residents during a ceremonial groundbreaking on Thursday, Dec. 14, in Chehalis.

A remodeling project at the Woodland Village senior living facility in Chehalis began this month and is intended to turn the space into a “state-of-the-art assisted living and memory care” facility, according to a news release.

The project is being undertaken by Village Concepts, a third-generation, family-owned business.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held on Dec. 14.

The facility is expected to open in 2019 and will be a “resident-focussed community” offering “independent living apartments, duplexes and townhouses.”

It will also include 24 new assisted living rooms and 19 memory care rooms, which will allow residents to transition to a higher level of care as they need it, according to a press release.

“We are excited to bring this new development and investment for seniors into Lewis County,” said Stuart Brown, chief operating officer at Village Concepts.

The project is projected to cost $7.1 million and is intended to meet the increasing need for senior living in Lewis County.

The facility is expected to create 20 or more jobs.

Village Concepts owns and manages 17 communities in the Puget Sound area offering on-site programming, personalized care and an emphasis on fostering relationships, according to a press release.

Watch, learn how it grows

Tamae Delaney, a Brannan Park Retirement community resident, tends the Eldergrow garden with the help of instructor Kristin Herrington-Albrecht. MARK KLAAS, Auburn Reporter

Seniors’ therapeutic horticulture takes root in Auburn

Some embrace watching nature grow from seed to sunshiny day.

Others simply don’t have much of a green thumb but enjoy good company.

Regardless of skill and familiarity, seniors at the Brannan Park Retirement community have welcomed a new program that brings them together as they talk, prepare and treat crops harvest-able for the dinner table or manage plants worthy as blossoming companions.

Eldergrow, a Seattle-based startup, teaches and builds relationships with residents through ongoing enrichment classes on horticulture, culinary and garden art.

“Besides just the food, it’s kind of the camaraderie and the sense of community that we build,” said Kristin Herrington-Albrecht, who comes twice a month to the north Auburn retirement facility to lead classes on a variety of topics. “It’s sitting down with someone, breaking bread and preparing food together. … It’s this very instinctual thing that you feel comfortable, you open up, and we start talking and reminiscing. Those are always my favorite classes.”

Brannan Park is one of six South Sound retirement communities that Herrington-Albrecht visits to show seniors the beauty and effect of healthy, home-grown food and interesting plants. Participants come away more knowledgeable about gardening. Many especially enjoy what they discover in the popular culinary class.

“Every culinary class we’ve done, new residents have joined us,” Herrington-Albrecht said.

Classes are educational and interactive. Seniors come to a roundtable to see how produce is prepped for a meal, for instance, or participate in an engaging arts project.

“It was fun,” said Audrey Franson. “It’s fun to see what other people do. They have a variety of things to do here.”

On Monday, it was all about chard, mint and other ingredients that helped Herrington-Albrecht and her pupils assemble a fresh-fruit-enhanced Christmas tree salad.

“We enjoy the class, and we enjoy this young lady,” said Dorene Fox, 84, who has lived in Auburn for 65 years and avidly joins Herrington-Albrecht to learn more about the garden.

Brannan Park launched the pioneering, therapeutic horticulture program this year through a garden partnership with Village Concepts, a third- generation, family-owned business that helps seniors thrive in retirement and in assisted living communities throughout the state.

As Stuart Brown, Village Concepts chief operating officer, explains: “Residents will be able to experience the satisfaction of creating and nurturing their own garden, just like at home, while attending classes and enjoying the fruits of their labor complete with arts and cooking activities.”

Residents enjoy the benefits of sensory stimulation and connecting with nature while they choose plants and herbs to transplant into the therapy garden, which occupies a space by the kitchen and dining area. Gardening also brings seniors back to simpler days.

“We try to bring nature indoors, for one,” Herrington-Albrecht said. “And because a lot of people were gardeners in the past, we want to provide them past times when they had a lot of fond memories. … A lot of people talk about gardening with families … and growing up helping their parents.”

The class also offers a chance to soak in the soil.

“We do want them to get their hands in the dirt,” Herrington-Albrecht said. ‘That’s a huge component.”