When residents stroll into the new activity center at Arbor Rose Adult Day Care and Memory Care Home in Monticello, they enter a space that includes fake storefronts aimed at eliciting smiles and triggering memories.

They walk by an ice cream shop (which actually serves sweet treats on occasion), an art museum that displays their own creations, and a painted blue sky on the ceiling.

It gives them the perception of being someplace other than in this hallway,” said Patty Yow, one of the owners of the facility.

The new activity area – officially licensed for use in late July – will be open to the public at an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18 at Arbor Rose, located at 1009 S. Irving St. in Monticello.

The 3,500 square foot addition allows the up to 22 residents to walk around the “square” — and keep them inside to do it.

With dementia they want to walk. This gives them that chance, and keeps them inside so they don’t wander,” said Connie Harrington, the activity/marketing coordinator for Arbor Rose’s five facilities.

Intentions had always been to add a movie theater, five rooms and an activity room to Arbor Rose. But the downtown feel, including paintings depicting Allerton Park and the Wabash Train Depot created by Yow’s daughter Tanille Ulm, entered the equation as owners saw how much the renderings helped those with memory care issues at some of their other facilities.

We came up with this idea midstream. We started to do this to remind people, then saw them remembering things when they saw this train, and thought it was a good thing,” said Patty’s husband and co-owner Tim Yow.

All of a sudden we saw people start remembering this stuff,” he added.

But they took it to a new level at Arbor Rose. They think the ability to walk completely around the activity area in a square of hallways – an indoor walking path if you will – is unique to such facilities.

It all comes down to stimulating the minds of memory care residents as much as possible.

As they go out here and walk around, they think about different areas. We have pet shops, there’s a candy shop, we have an art museum and we will display work that they will do. One of the purposes of walking around is to see their work on display,” said Mrs. Yow.

The ownership group also includes Brent and Luz Zabka, who take memory care so seriously they not only went back to school to obtain advanced degrees in aging studies, but created an app to help people keep their minds sharp. The Ultra Brain Power app is available on the Arbor Rose website at https://www.arborrosememorycare.com.

Patty Yow would also like to get the community more involved at Arbor Rose. That’s why there are mailboxes on the wall of one hallway. She hopes to coordinate with local schoolchildren for a pen pal-style program to get those mailboxes used.

She calls the floor design of the activity center the “Arbor Rose Advantage.”

Not many places have this kind of setup. It’s an advantage because it keeps their minds active, it keeps their memories going, and ongoing activities just makes them happy,” she said.