Healthy aging with The Lantern Group

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At the Lantern facilities in Northeast Ohio, the focus is on helping Alzheimer’s and dementia patients age more healthfully. CEO Jean Makesh explains. (Photo by Benjamin Margalit/Margalit Studio)

By Mary Malik

Aging is inevitable. And if we’re lucky, we get to do it for a long time while staying as physically and mentally healthy as possible. Just as physical health takes some work, mental wellness also requires effort. 

Jean Makesh, CEO of The Lantern Group, has made it his life’s mission to provide both exceptional care and treatment for the aging body and brain. 

“Only five percent of the population has a genetic predisposition for Alzheimer’s disease, and even for those people we can slow the progression,” says Jean. “Our Fountain of Life program is a unique approach to the treatment of memory care residents where daily activities take place within a customized environment that leads to healthy aging.”

Lantern staff members care for residents in both the assisted living and memory care wings. Residents are continuously engaged in activities that stimulate the brain and reinforce activities of daily living that fade in dementia patients. 


“Skills have to be repeated in order to maintain them,” says Jean. “The older we get, for different reasons, we stop doing things. Losing physical functionality may lead to the inability to perform simple tasks we’ve done millions of times. Once we stop doing them, we can lose the ability to ever do them again.”

Staying physically healthy is important to overall mental health. The caregivers at the Lantern facilities are specifically trained to work with residents on repetition of tasks and other activities. Constant repetition of behaviors can return some of the lost functionality of Alzheimer’s patients. 

“Our caregivers and therapists work on rehabilitation in an engaging and fun way,” says Jean. “Nothing makes me happier than when I hear that a resident can now do something for themselves they could not do when they arrived.” 


There are two parts to the Fountain of Life program. Brain Power works mainly with assisted living residents who may not be experiencing significant memory decline. The goal is to keep the brain not only retaining knowledge, but also constantly learning new things. Svayus is geared toward residents experiencing dementia and, along with learning activities, focuses on environment. 

“Svayus is a word meaning ‘life full of vigor,’” says Jean. “The decor and layouts of the Chagrin Valley, Saybrook and Madison facilities are reminiscent of childhood, a simpler time for residents. Evoking these feelings puts them at ease and reduces the anxiety and agitation that is often present with dementia sufferers.”

Jean and the staff know that once anxiety is reduced, treatment and healing can begin. All Lantern facilities are laid out like a neighborhood. As residents walk down Main Street, they pass familiar storefronts such as the hair salon, pub, chapel, theater and even a golf course design. 

“There are lots of windows throughout the buildings so residents don’t feel confined,” says Jean.

“Humans love nature, but as we age we tend to avoid it due to a fear of falling and other concerns. Our buildings include lots of plants, water features and other natural elements to allow residents to experience nature in a safe environment.”


Just 30 percent of each of the Lantern facilities houses Alzheimer’s and dementia residents. Jean hopes to continue to decrease that 30 percent until all of the residents are enjoying a healthy aging process. 

“We can do it, but it takes time and effort,” says Jean. “We care for the very young in this country by combining caring and teaching. Why can’t we do the same for the aging population? We have a moral responsibility to extend the courtesy to our elderly and that is our mission here.”


Lantern of Chagrin Valley is located at 5277 Chillicothe Rd in Chagrin Falls. For more information or to schedule a tour, call 440-557-1186. Lantern of Madison is located at 2041 Hubbard Road, in Madison. For information or to schedule a tour, call 440-428-2664. Lantern of Saybrook is located at 3720 N. Ridge W in Saybrook. To schedule a tour of Saybrook, call 440-261-3100. Check the website for information on all of Lantern’s Ohio facilities.