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The Sunrise Story

Founders Paul and Terry

Before 1981, families in the U.S. faced a heart-wrenching choice when caring for their frail, aging relatives; their options were either home care or the sterile, impersonal environment of a traditional long-term nursing facility.

First-Hand Experience

Terry Klaassen was 15 when she and her father struggled to provide her terminally ill mother with home care rather than turn to the only alternative at the time — an impersonal institution with cold corridors, hard linoleum floors and harsh fluorescent lighting. At that early age, Terry came to understand the essential role families play in long-term care decisions and the importance of incorporating dignity, trust and independence into caregiving.

First Sunrise Home

An Idea From Holland

Growing up in the Netherlands, Paul had a very different experience with elder care. His grandparents lived in warm, homelike assisted care environments called "verzorgingstehuizen." They enjoyed the independence and dignity of doing all the things they had done on their own — shopping, cooking and laundry — but they also had the security of assistance when they needed it.

Realizing there were no options in the U.S. other than the institutional environment of traditional long-term care facilities, Paul and Terry decided to introduce the Dutch concept to a new audience.

Tapping a Vast Need

Soon, Paul and Terry began imagining a community built from the ground up to meet their new philosophy of care. Starting with the understanding that a high quality of life is only possible in environments that people find warm, nurturing, comfortable and welcoming, they found inspiration from restaurants and fine inns, small European hotels and single-family homes.

Sunrise Home

The result was a secure, comfortable and familiar environment that became The Sunrise Signature Experience. These community models were a drastic departure from the typical nursing home facility, where virtually every element — from the fluorescent lighting to the long, institutional corridors — resembled a hospital more than a home. In 1987, Sunrise opened the first of their Victorian-style mansions, now a nationally recognized symbol of Sunrise's high-quality assisted living.

Expanded Services

Over the years, Sunrise has evolved by broadening the assisted living model to provide specialized care in a place that feels like home. Today Sunrise offers:

Although there now are more than 300 Sunrise Senior Living communities throughout the U.S., and in Canada and the United Kingdom, every location holds true to the vision on which the company was founded, and to the commitment to redefining care provided by assisted living facilities for seniors. Team members at every Sunrise community are trained to understand the value of our mission, Principles of Service and Core Values, and are encouraged to be guided by them in daily interaction with residents.

In 2011, Sunrise celebrated 30 years of championing quality of life for all seniors. Commemorating this milestone, our Founders Paul and Terry Klaassen shared a special message and Sunrise team members created an anniversary video recognizing our commitment to serving residents at nearly 300 senior living communities located throughout three countries.

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