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The Charter Oak


The Dogwood Memory Care Neighborhood Hartford, Connecticut


A majestic 100-year-old oak tree on the property is the focal point of a 12-resident addition at the Dogwood Memory Care Neighborhood. The tree is also the inspiration for the interior design’s “Connection to Nature” theme, which maximizes natural light and offers outdoor views.


For residents, who have cognitive impairments commonly experienced by those with dementia, the mighty oak tree has become a topic of conversation and a means to note the pas- sage of time and the changing seasons. “Each weather-related day we talk about the tree – is it ominous or friendly today,” says Catherine Andersen, whose 91-year-old mother Peggy Powell, lives at Dogwood. “The tree takes on different faces depending on the weather. You’re pro-


tected in this beautiful room but you get to experience weather and nature.” Powell’s room is adjacent to the garden room, which offers com- fortable chairs to sit in while residents take in sweeping views of the oak tree. “You can see the branches bending to the wind, snow on the ground, leaves that have fallen,” she says. “Everything is just right there for you to know whether you are looking at bright sunny day or cold wintry day or a rainy blustery day. It’s like a moving picture.” Art therapy is also offered in the garden room, and Powell often participates. “From seeing the artwork, I can tell that it’s a wonderful place to be able to create,” she says. Another special place at Dogwood is its garden of dahlias, Andersen says. There are gazebos, trellises, pathways and benches where residents sit, rest and enjoy the view, the flowers that bloom and the birds. The flowers are so colorful and large that Andersen says it looks just like the garden from the literary classic Alice in Wonderland.


26 SENIOR LIVING EXECUTIVE / NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016


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