Auburn, NY (February 7, 2024) – To help meet significant, continuously growing demand for memory care services in Cayuga County, Loretto opened its fourth Memory Special Care Unit today, this time in Auburn. This newly designed memory care floor features imagery and technology that soothes and supports those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Loretto has been providing comprehensive memory care services for those in need for more than 30 years, and the development of this unit in Auburn is a response to the growing need for dementia and Alzheimer’s care in the region. According to the New York State Department of Health, more than 410,000 people in New York State are living with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to grow to 460,000 by next year. To further bring that impactful statistic into perspective, 22% of that population (around 90,200 people) live in Onondaga and Cayuga counties, where Loretto provides services.

This redesigned unit provides a new home for 40 long-term memory care residents, offering the most innovative dementia care services, environment, and technology – allowing individuals to live as independently as possible. The space feels more like a neighborhood than a nursing home as Loretto’s approach to memory care encourages residents to contribute to their community.



The goal of The Commons’ Memory Care Special Unit is to provide a calming and supportive environment filled with visual cues and supports. Specific features designed to help those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s include:

  • To help with wayfinding, the once clinical space has been transformed into a neighborhood. Each resident’s room has a distinct front door. Common spaces include a community room for resident activities, and a gathering room for activity-based family visits.
  • Sitting areas feature beautiful murals of a garden, sunflowers, the inside of a stained-glass church, and other rural scenes that are intended for sensory breaks and quiet conversations.
  • Lighting, window treatments including shutters, and cloud tiles on the ceiling optimize natural light and sensory stimulation, helping residents feel calm and remember life’s simple pleasures.
  • New specialized chairs and recliners help support postural needs while providing comfort.


Meanwhile, new technologies include the It’s Never Too Late (“iN2L”) program, lifelike animatronic pets including cats and dogs, and Pearl’s Memory Care Babies to help soothe and comfort residents.  The unit also offers Lucynt technology, a software platform and gaming system developed by gerontologists to improve cognition, encourage physical activity, and promote social interaction.

With support in grant funding from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation and the United Way of Cayuga County, the development of this new Memory Special Care Unit took six months of planning and three months of construction to complete.

This Memory Special Care Unit at The Commons is the first of its kind in dedicated to dementia care in Auburn. Loretto holds the distinction of being the sole provider of Medicaid-assisted living in New York State. It is the area’s only safety-net provider – meaning that no one is denied care based on their health condition or ability to pay. This, coupled with the startling statistics noted above, means the high demand for Loretto’s memory care services will only continue to grow.

“Today is a significant step for people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and their families, in Cayuga County,” said Loretto President and CEO Dr. Kim Townsend. “As the region’s leader in memory care, Loretto continues to provide residents with a high quality of life, improving their well-being through empowerment.”

NEW to Auburn: Montessori Approach to Memory Care

The new Memory Special Care Unit at The Commons will focus on meeting each resident’s individual needs based on the complexity of their disease, employing the same new, holistic Montessori Method approach that’s successfully helping residents living at Loretto Health & Rehabilitation in Syracuse. The Montessori Method calls for individualized care plans filled with cues and memory supports in an arranged environment that nurtures the needs of each resident while promoting independence through the progression of the disease.

Right now, Loretto is one of only two long-term care facilities utilizing this approach statewide, and it’s the only long-term care facility using the Montessori Method in Cayuga and Onondaga County. By providing people with choices, encouraging independence, and playing to existing skills and strengths to engage residents, the method helps people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia find purpose, meaning, and foster connection with others.

Director of Nursing and Auburn native Jolene Crehan is excited about introducing the Montessori Method to the new Memory Special Care Unit, and believes it will address a critical need not only in Auburn, but throughout the Finger Lakes region.

“When all of The Commons’ memory care residents are settled, Loretto will train staff in the Montessori-Inspired Lifestyle® approach and work to earn Montessori certification,” said Jolene Crehan. “We have seen how the Montessori Method has helped others in our Loretto system of care, and we know the approach will help our residents in their journey with Alzheimer’s and dementia find peace and purpose. We are excited to begin our Montessori journey at The Commons, and look forward to the good things to come.”

The new Memory Special Care Unit at The Commons will be staffed by an interdisciplinary team that includes medical staff, nursing, social workers, dietitians, recreation therapists, residents, family members, and other health professionals as needed.

Loretto is currently hiring Certified Nurse Aids, Licensed Practical Nurses and Registered Nurses. Certified professionals and those who are interested in growing their career through advanced training programs are encouraged to apply. To learn more about careers at The Commons and Loretto, visit

For additional photos, video, and information about memory care services at Loretto, please visit COMMONS MSCU MEDIA RELEASE | Loretto (


About Loretto

Loretto is a leader in comprehensive healthcare services in Central New York. As the fourth largest healthcare provider and the sixth largest employer in the region, the 2,500 exceptional people at Loretto’s 19 locations deliver extraordinary care to close to 10,000 people of all ages, income levels, and care needs in Onondaga and Cayuga counties each year. From adult day programs and short-term rehabilitation to the home-like settings in its assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities, Loretto is actively investing in its employees, in medical research, and in new technologies to improve care in our community, Making Every Day Extraordinary. Loretto: exceptional people. Extraordinary care.

About The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers, bolster the health outcomes of vulnerable communities, eliminate barriers to care, and bridge gaps in health services. Named after a tireless advocate for immigrants, children, and the poor, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation funds programs and initiatives across New York State that either provide direct healthcare services or address the social determinants of health. For more information, visit


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