Ontario gets a caring place for 16 more people with dementia and related conditions, with the planned opening of an expansion of Sunset Estates in 2022. (The Enterprise/LES ZAITZ)

ONTARIO – For Mike Hanigan and Dr. Eric Dahle, the expansion of their Ontario memory care unit can’t happen soon enough.

Hanigan, a former auto dealership owner, and Dahle, an Ontario dentist, are preparing to soon open Sunset Villa, a 16-room center to tend to those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The facility is adjacent to Sunset Estates, the original 16-unit care center they opened in 2014 at 281 Sunset Drive. The partners are awaiting final state approval before they open the doors of the new building.

Some of the rooms have already been reserved because the need for such care is significant in the area, Dahle said.

The two said they didn’t have to do elaborate market research to justify the business decision to build the new unit.

“We hated turning people away, not having a bed when a family is in a time of need,” said Hanigan, who takes an active role in managing the business.

Dahle said they were “turning people away on a continual basis” because the original center was always full.

“We have a feel for the market based on how many phone calls and inquiries we get, how many we’re having to turn away,” said Dahle, who has been a dentist in Ontario for 32 years.

Hanigan said Sunset Estates provides what they hope is more compassionate care than might be available in larger corporate facilities.

“We’re right on top of our employees and our residents, making sure they are all taken very good care of,” said Hanigan.

Dahle said that as the population ages in the U.S., “there are a lot of people who are starting to enter that season of life where they get dementia.”

Hanigan and Dahle see the toll that can take.

“When a family member gets dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s crushing on the family,” Hanigan said.

“People really feel like they have to tough it out at home, be the caregiver that takes care of their spouse of loved one,” Dahle said. “There definitely comes a time when it’s okay, it’s good to seek help.”

He said spouses and others sometimes hold out too long before turning to outside help.

“It is just so exhausting and wearing on the primary caregiver,” Dahle said.

The new facility has one improvement over the original – each unit has its own bathroom.

For those interested in learning about the operation, Dahle said they should call Sunset Estates at 541-889-1115.

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