An Introduction to Sunrise Senior Living
Logo for Sunrise Senior Living

7900 Westpark Drive, Suite T-900 McLean, VA 22102
Founders: Paul and Terry Klaassen Established: 1981
(866) 531-0695

About Sunrise Senior Living

In 1981, Paul and Terry Klaassen opened Sunrise Senior Living to take senior care light years beyond the institutionalized services typical of nursing homes at the time. Their mission was simple and clear: "To champion quality of life for all seniors." That's the Sunrise Difference.

Now, more than 30 years later, Sunrise Senior Living serves nearly 30,000 seniors in more than 300 resident-centered communities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Headquartered in McLean, VA, Sunrise Senior Living is the third largest assisted living provider, the third largest memory care provider, and the fourth largest overall senior living provider in the United States. In 2013, Sunrise Senior Living was acquired by Health Care REIT, a real estate investment trust headquartered in Toledo, Ohio.


Prior to 1981 and the opening of the first Sunrise Senior Living community, the only options for non-independent seniors were home care or impersonal nursing care institutions. Terry Klaassen experienced this harsh reality firsthand while, as a teenager, she and her father struggled to care for her terminally ill mother. On the flipside, Paul Klaassen grew up in the Netherlands, where his grandparents lived in warm, home-like assisted care environments called "verzorgingstehuizen." Together, Paul and Terry decided to bring the Dutch concept of nurturing, dignified senior care to the United States.

Inspired by restaurants, fine inns, small European hotels, and single-family homes, the Klaassens began to create comfortable senior communities that felt more like homes than hospitals. And in 1987, the couple opened the first of its Victorian-style mansions, which are now a nationally recognized symbol of the high quality of Sunrise Senior Living.

Levels of Care

Sunrise Senior Living communities offer a range of tailored services and care levels, including independent living; assisted living and personal care; short-term stays and respite care; skilled nursing and rehabilitative care; and Alzheimer's and memory care.

Independent Living

Residents of Sunrise Independent Living enjoy the benefits of living in their own home - minus the chores of home ownership. Independent Living seniors receive housekeeping, linen, and transportation services, and peace of mind through the 24-hour medical alert system and emergency response programs present in every residence. Not only that, Sunrise Independent Living communities offer on-site conveniences such as beauty and barber shops, banking, and concierge service. Residents can also take advantage of the exercise and game rooms, library and/or reading rooms, and community activity center. Personalized services such as medication reminders, daily status checks, or help with grooming may be arranged.

Assisted Living

At the next level of care, Sunrise Assisted Living residents benefit from the presence of trained staff available 24 hours a day, medication coordination, and monthly wellness visits by a licensed on-staff nurse. A major perk of Sunrise Assisted Living is complete maintenance-free living, including housekeeping, trash removal, and laundry. Assisted living apartments feature a full bath and an emergency call response system, and all Sunrise communities are pet-friendly. Because of its emphasis on maintaining strong bonds between seniors and their loved ones, the assisted living experience at Sunrise includes social and educational programs for families as well as scheduled resident and family meetings.

Short-Term Stays

At Sunrise Senior Living, guests also have the opportunity to experience assisted living on a temporary basis. Short-term stay seniors who meet the community's admissions criteria can move into a furnished apartment and access 24-hour personal assistance with needs such as bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, eating, mobility, medication management, and more. Short- term residents enjoy three meals a day as well as snacks, and may participate in any community activities and events they desire. Short-term stays at Sunrise are based on space availability, and duration requirements vary by location.

Skilled Nursing

With the goal of quickly restoring residents to their highest level of functioning and independence, Sunrise's Skilled Nursing communities provide post-hospital and post-surgical care in private or semi-private accommodations. Along with 24-hour restorative care, these communities offer physical, occupational, and speech therapies, as well as family counseling. Sunrise team members coordinate physician and pharmacy services and transportation; additional skilled nursing amenities vary by location.

Reminiscence Neighborhoods

Seniors with Alzheimer's, dementia, and other forms of memory loss feel right at home in Sunrise's specially designed, secure Reminiscence Neighborhoods. Each neighborhood contains a living room, dining room, country kitchen, activities area, and relaxation room so seniors can experience all the comforts of home. In most cases, residents' suites are located next to the living and dining rooms to promote social interaction and easy navigation. Residents also have unobstructed access to secure outdoor spaces such as patios, porches, and gardens with walking paths. Every Reminiscence Neighborhood has a dog or a cat, and children from local schools visit often, bringing joy and vitality to the community.

Of course, the Sunrise Memory Care Team is integral to the health and well-being of the Reminiscence Neighborhood. Life Enrichment Managers are present to involve residents in daily activities that offer a sense of purpose and help them feel valued. In addition, each resident is paired with a Designated Care Manager to build a lasting bond and provide the best possible care.

Terrace Club and Avon Place

Seniors in the early stages of memory loss who do not require the level of structure and assistance found in a Sunrise Reminiscence Neighborhood can take advantage of Terrace Club or Avon Place alternatives. These programs are offered in many Sunrise communities to help seniors stay on track with regular routines such as hygiene and activities. Team members provide structured, stimulating activities to slow the progression of memory loss so that residents receive the independence they want and the attention they need, when they need it.

Individualized Service Plans

No matter what your level of independence, Sunrise Senior Living will work with you and your family to build a comprehensive Individualized Service Plan (ISP) before you move in to a Sunrise community. This customized program of care and service is based on your interests, needs, and desires, and will be used to guide the daily interaction between you and Sunrise team members. Your ISP may include assistance with grooming, dressing, and bathing, as well as assessment of mobility, wellness, and medication management. And since your needs may change over time, the ISP will be updated throughout your time at Sunrise Senior Living.

The Comforts of Home

Every Sunrise Senior Living community is designed to feel just like home. Residents are encouraged to bring their own furniture, decorations, and accessories to adorn their new apartment. A personalized shadow box is displayed outside each apartment door to showcase the resident's history, talents, and interests. Sunrise has even partnered with professional designer Emily Henderson, host of HGTV's "Secrets from a Stylist," to help design unique, comfortable spaces for seniors.

For residents with low vision, Sunrise developed "The View" -- a unique package that consists of design elements such as dark curtains to outline the window, light-switch plates that contrast with the wall, a large-print wall calendar, a talking clock, and a large-button phone. Whatever your needs and desires, Sunrise will work with you to help you feel right at home.

Activities for Mind, Body, and Spirit

In Sunrise Senior Living communities, residents benefit from unique programming and meaningful activities that meet the needs of the whole person. Cognitive programs designed to support and maintain memory and brain fitness include discussion groups, lectures, language study, and more. Fitness and wellness programs include low-impact aerobics, strength training, dancing, nutrition education, and others. Creative, life-enriching programs include art classes, music programs, poetry groups, drama clubs, religious services, community service opportunities, and more. When you move to Sunrise, you can rest assured that your mind, body, and spirit will receive equal attention and care.

Sunrise Signature Dining

Independent living, assisted living, memory care, and short-term stay residents at Sunrise all enjoy three delicious, nutritious meals each day. These home-cooked, gourmet meals are prepared from scratch using local, seasonal ingredients. Seniors enjoy classic favorites, regional dishes, and tastes from around the world. Each resident's dietary plan and religious and cultural preferences are accommodated, with reduced-fat, low-calorie, high-fiber, low-sodium, and many other menu options available. Finger-food diets are provided for Sunrise memory care residents, if needed. Meals are served in Sunrise's restaurant-style dining rooms, with private dining and catering options available as well. And each year, Sunrise Senior Living produces a new cookbook -- Recipes From the Heart -- which features a collection of Sunrise food favorites.

Employee Training: Sunrise University

Sunrise Senior Living is dedicated to hiring team members with natural serving hearts (known as "Sunrise Serving Hearts") and a commitment to providing top-notch care. Not only that, Sunrise is also dedicated to employees' training and preparation for service. Every new team member must complete the internationally recognized, award-winning Sunrise University training program prior to taking their place in the Sunrise community. Through The Learning Channel, an online resource of Sunrise University, employees participate in self-guided career training featuring skill-building exercises, customized tools for specific roles, group training, continuing education, and more. It's no surprise that Sunrise Senior Living has been thrice named a "Great Place to Work" by The Washingtonian.

Financial Options

Sunrise Senior Living has partnered with Elderlife Financial Services to help seniors and their families navigate their financial options and design a personalized financial plan. Sunrise has also partnered with H&R Block to provide guidance on assisted living financing -- H&R Block offers a free Second Look Review for Sunrise residents as well as discounts on tax return preparation. In addition, through the Aid and Attendance program, Sunrise resident veterans and spouses may be eligible to receive nearly $2,000 per month to help defray the cost of assisted living or other non-reimbursed medical care.

Companion Living

If a private suite is beyond your budget, Sunrise Senior Living also offers companion living shared suites that confer the benefits of senior living at a lower cost. Companion living residents are matched through a common background or interest, which is an excellent foundation for a friendship that can ease the transition to senior living.

Sunrise Goes Green

When you or your loved one move into a Sunrise Senior Living community, you can take pride in the fact that your new home is committed to environmentally sustainable practices. To date, more than 30 Sunrise communities have been granted ENERGY STAR certification by the Environmental Protection Agency. ENERGY STAR certified Sunrise communities are committed to energy efficiency in kitchen and laundry operations, lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. In addition, all Sunrise communities have a comprehensive program in place to maintain equipment and conserve energy costs.

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