A family effort at Arbors Memory Care Community | nnbw.com

A family effort at Arbors Memory Care Community

One family-owned and -operated memory care facility has been caring for seniors in northern Nevada who suffer from memory loss for nearly 20 years.

Arbors Memory Care Community is an assisted living and memory care community, located in Sparks, that cares for people with Alzheimer's and other dementia.

The Arbors opened in 1998 and is owned and operated by Gina Stutchman and her husband Jason Lewis. Gina's parents, Tom and Connie Stutchman, built and operated many senior-housing centers in Northern Nevada.

The Stutchmans moved to Fallon in 1973 where Tom and Connie purchased the Fallon Convalescent Center. From an early age, Gina and her brother, Brent, would visit the residents at the family business.

"I used to walk to the nursing home that my parents owned and managed, every day after school and hang out until whatever time we went home that day," Gina Stutchman said.

"I got to visit with a lot of (the residents) and they had amazing stories."

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She developed a love for seniors through that upbringing. Additionally, she learned first-hand the various aspects of running the business.

"My dad was of firm belief that you better know every aspect of your business," Gina Stutchman said. "He really had us work in every single department of the nursing home and it was a huge benefit."

In 1984, Tom and Connie decided to transition their focus from skilled nursing care to retirement housing, which was lacking in Northern Nevada at the time. They opened Westwood Active Retirement in 1985 and Silverwood Assisted Living in 1991. Brent managed the active retirement property and Gina was the administrator for the assisted living property.

The Stutchmans soon found that there were not many options for clients who were suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia in Northern Nevada. Tom convinced Gina to build the 40,000-square-foot Arbors Memory Care Community located at 2121 E. Prater Way in Sparks.

However, Tom died as the construction of the facility was about to begin. The Stutchmans had to sell the Westwood and Silverwood facilities in order to continue to develop The Arbors, which has continued to be their focus.

Gina's husband, Jason, joined the staff in 2013. He takes care of building maintenance and the financial aspects of the business. Their two daughters, Elena, 12, and Amelia, 9, are frequently found socializing and entertaining the residents.

The Arbors typically serves around 58 to 65 residents, employs 53 staff members and has a 6-to-1 resident to caregiver ratio, as regulated by the industry. Gina was involved in the process of working with the state to set the Nevada regulations.

"I really pushed for that 6-to-1 ratio because I didn't want a lot of outside operators coming in and doing a poor job and giving the industry a bad name," Gina Stutchman said. "You truly cannot care for people with dementia without a high staff ratio."

According to the Alzheimer's Association, there are an estimated 43,000 people over the age of 65 living with Alzheimer's in Nevada. An estimated 20,000 of that population resides in Washoe County.

Gina said that while owning a memory care facility can be challenging, the residents are a reminder to her why the business is worthwhile.

"When I have been sitting in the front office too long and I become frustrated with whatever challenges have come along that day … I get up and I come hang out with my clients," Gina Stutchman said. "It brings it all back home so I know that those frustrations are worth it."

Gina said her father taught her from an early age to be an advocate for the industry and the people they serve. The Arbors is an annual sponsor of the local Walk to End Alzheimer's, Gina is a founding member of the newly formed Nevada Assisted Living Association and has also served on the board of the Northern Nevada Alzheimer's Association.

This year, she has been involved in working to ensure individuals living with dementia are receiving quality care by advocating at the Nevada Legislature. There are three bills that deal with the topic including: Senate Bill 95, which would require an analysis of the adequacy of Medicaid reimbursement rates for personal care services; SB96, which would require a comparative analysis of the rates of reimbursement paid by Medicaid for certain services; and SB121, which directs the Legislative Commission to appoint a committee to conduct an interim study concerning issues regarding the behavioral and cognitive care needs of older persons.

"And I still strongly believe that if you are going to be in this industry then you better be able to step up to the plate and advocate because they cannot advocate for themselves and their families are so wiped out they cannot advocate either," Gina Stutchman said.

For information about The Arbors, visit http://www.arborsmemorycare.com.