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The median age in Westmoreland County is 46, and more than 19,500 county residents are enrolled in Medicare. More than 34,000 — just under 10 percent — are 75 or older.

An aging population means a greater demand for services those residents need. At the Greensburg Care Center, it has led to the recent completion of a $1.5 million expansion of the center’s memory-impaired unit serving residents dealing with dementia issues.

“We recognized the need in the community for memory-impaired services,” said GCC Administrator Laurie Tamasy. “We started this process two years ago, and we’ve added resident rooms and enlarged our common area where residents have dining space and an activity lounge.”

The former 14-bed unit has been expanded to 30 beds, with an additional eight resident rooms. In the activity lounge, a brand-new bank of windows lights up the area and looks out over the center’s secure, enclosed courtyard where residents can relax, water garden plants and take a walk in the sunlight.

“The larger windows allow more natural light to illuminate the Memory Impaired Unit,” Tamasy said. “As a result, residents feel more relaxed and relate better to the gardens in the courtyard. That helps them to reconnect with the outside world and bring back some memories.”

The 4,000-square-foot expansion also includes a Snoezelen room , a multi-sensory environment for residents.

“It’s a sensory area that helps to decrease behavior and anxiety,” Tamasy said.

The room features a lighted liquid display with bubbles, two projectors displaying colors, stars and animals on the ceiling and wall, and several tactile activities aimed at stimulating the mind.

“This is really a new concept for memory-impaired units,” Tamasy said. “It’s been very popular.”

In addition, the unit provides a psychiatrist, a nurse practitioner, and staff who have undergone specialized training to care for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Tours of the expansion are available to families with prospective residents.

“The expanded space gives additional room for wandering, and for multiple activities to take place at once,” Tamasy said.

For more, call the center at 724-836-2480.

Source: Greensburg Care Center completes $1.5 million expansion of dementia unit