Transforming Aging

Over its 30 year history, Watermark has come to enjoy a reputation as a leader in innovation in the senior living industry.

Drummer performing for group of Fountains residents

A resident’s daughter remarked that Watermark was the only community that focused on what her mother could do versus what she was no longer able to do. It is precisely this kind of programming and the connections it makes with residents that sets Watermark apart.

With the intent to dramatically improve the quality of life of the residents we serve by supporting not only their physical and intellectual health but also their emotional and spiritual well-being, Watermark has led the way in transformative developments that do truly impact residents’ daily lives. These innovations include:

Watermark University

Women Dancing in a Watermark University Class

See Watermark University in Action

Watermark Communities has integrated programmatic offerings in the seven dimensions of wellness (spiritual, emotional, vocational, physical, social, environmental, and intellectual). We have branded the collective offerings “Watermark University” (WU). Programs that focus on enhancing the mind, body and spirit are not unusual in senior housing communities. What makes WU special is how the programs are designed and implemented.

WU strives to involve everyone in the community, including residents, staff, family members and community volunteers, both as Faculty and Students. Students can enroll in classes ranging from guitar lessons to music theory; traditional exercise and fitness to gardening, yoga, tai chi and meditation. By reaching beyond the typical activity and fitness staff at a community, we gain a connection with the resident, family, staff members and even on occasion our vendors. The results are as impressive as the variety of offerings.

And Watermark University is not just for those capable of living independently. Residents who require assisted living, nursing care and even memory support (including their families and our staff) can all be involved in WU at some level.

Thrive Memory Care with Naya Caregivers

A friendly Naya at Work

Read More About Nayas at Work

We believe the art of caregiving goes beyond the traditional title, so we call our caregivers Nayas, a word originating from the ancient language of Sanskrit. A Naya is a guide, person of wisdom and leader who is engaged in the present moment. Nayas know that behaviors are a response to an unmet need. From this thoughtful foundation, they cultivate a sense of well-being and connection.

We’ve partnered with the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners to train our Nayas how to incorporate residents in the rhythms of daily living and communicate through validation rather than correction to show understanding and support. Together, residents and Nayas work side by side cooking, cleaning, preparing and serving homestyle meals, and doing anything else that evokes a sense of joy and purpose throughout the day.


Our commitment to extraordinary Memory Care includes our associates receiving the additional education and training required to become a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP). This certification is based on training created by the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners. Watermark associates learn cutting-edge approaches to communication strategies, symptoms and progression of the disease, expert methods for creating positive outcomes from responsive behaviors and other key topics. Our associates gain a greater understanding and develop the skills to deliver extraordinary, encouraging care for residents and their families.


Watermark associates have a deep understanding of the challenges our residents face each day. Our Dementia Awareness Experience is at the heart of this understanding. This unique experience simulates common impairments associated with various types of dementia while participants complete common tasks. These tasks may be something as routine as filling a glass with water from a pitcher but with the added challenge of wearing gloves that impair dexterity and glasses that mimic vision loss. This “walk in their shoes” approach inspires empathy and a clearer understanding of how best to support individuals to live their life to the fullest each day.


Download Gourmet Bites Brochure

Download Gourmet Bites Brochure

Watermark is changing lives one meal at a time. This pioneering, innovative process transforms the same delicious items from our traditional menus into nutritional, visually pleasing and easily hand-held portions. These nutrient-packed versions retain all the taste, texture and flavors of the traditional meal. This specialized menu is enhancing independence and restoring the joy of dining for residents with cognitive, physical or neuromuscular challenges in Watermark communities coast to coast.


It’s a wonderful feeling to know your favorite foods or mementos are always close at hand. Our Pantry Program provides residents of our Memory Care neighborhoods with their own personal space to store comfort foods and favorite items. Here, they can count on finding their mint Milano cookies, tomato bisque or ginger pear tea. Families and friends use the pantry spaces to store photographs, books, games and more for fun conversation starters during visits with loved ones.


Engage VR offers residents the opportunity to immerse themselves in exciting experiences and adventures, such as experiencing the Apollo 11 moon landing, exploring the Titanic or embarking on an African safari. Virtual reality offers breathtaking environments and provides yet another innovative tool to help our residents thrive. As virtual reality applications and technology advance, residents from communities across the globe may be able to connect and gather as if they were all in the same room, forging unique connections and friendships that would otherwise be impossible.


Extraordinary Outings challenge traditional assumptions of what is possible for residents of a retirement living community. From fishing trips and visits to Radio City Music Hall to hot air balloon rides, train trips and even overnight camping trips, Extraordinary Outings stretch beyond day-to-day excursions to ensure that residents have special experiences to look forward to, regardless of whether they live in Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care or Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing neighborhoods.


Watermark respects, honors and celebrates diversity in all forms and has embarked upon a partnership with SAGE, a national leader working tirelessly on behalf of LGBT elders for four decades. Watermark is committed to becoming Platinum SAGE credentialed, with at least 80 percent of associates completing SAGE training coast to coast. Armed with greater knowledge, empathy and understanding, Watermark communities will be even more poised to serve our diverse communities, associates, families, friends and guests.

Thriving Through Music

Two happy artist residents of the Fountains at La Cholla

Watch the Video

Music helps residents connect with others, engage in our vibrant community life opportunities and find joy throughout the day. Our Thriving Through Music program ensures residents living in our Memory Care neighborhoods have access to music of their choice via personalized song playlists.


These are just a few of the Watermark signature programs we have developed or implemented as we push the boundaries of what retirement living can be. Many of these best practices are unique to Watermark and provide the basis of our success in creating innovative and extraordinary communities where people thrive.