'Growing epidemic of memory loss': Dementia hotel offers caregivers respite
TORONTO -- A new Toronto-area hotel designed for people living with memory loss is offering a safe space for dementia patients and a short break for their loved ones.
In 2015, Ashley Kwong started Memory & Company in Markham, Ont., as a day centre for people with dementia who are not eligible for a long-term care facility. She later renovated the space with 10 private suites to provide overnight accommodations for patients and respite for caregivers.
Kwong says the boutique hotel is the first respite resort in the world to offer a safe place where caregivers can check in their loved ones when they can't provide the around-the-clock care dementia patients often require.
"Every room has motion sensors to make sure our members stay as safe as possible," said Kwong in an interview with CTV's Heather Wright. The hotel also has 24-7 supervision by support members and nurses, plus gourmet meals.
According to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, there are about 570,000 Canadians currently living with some form of dementia. The organization says that number is expected to double over the next 15 years, adding pressure on loved ones who will have to step in as caregivers.
"This is a growing epidemic of memory loss," said Kwong.
Steve Charikar became his wife Elana's primary caregiver after she developed a rare form of dementia at age 55. He says Memory & Company's respite resort gives him peace of mind when he can't be there to look after her.
"It's a state of comfort for me as I know she's well-taken care of," said Charikar.
Kwong says the hotel service helps free up hospital beds, prevents caregiver burnout and keeps patients in their homes longer.
"If people are sitting idle at home all the time the brain gets lazy and atrophies like every other part of our body," said Kwong. "We have to make sure that we maintain stimulation in helping slowdown that memory loss and keeping them out of an institutional setting for as long as possible."
While Memory & Company's $299 a night price tag is not inexpensive, the respite resort offers cognitive and physical activities not commonly seen in other facilities including movie nights, art classes, pet therapy, fitness programs and even spa services.