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Rita and Dick George enjoy a special dinner at their assisted living facility, Benton House of Aiken. National Assisted Living Facility Week wrapped up on Friday.

As National Assisted Living Week wraps up, seniors and the Benton House of Aiken reflect on the importance assisted living and memory care services provide in their lives.

“This is lovely,” said Rita George, a Benton House resident during a community dinner at the facility on Thursday night. “It brings the outside in.”

Rita George and her husband, Dick, were previously residents of Woodside. They moved into an assisted living facility, which they said are “tremendously” important, to make life a little easier.

National Assisted Living Week is a campaign that aims to bring awareness to the importance of senior living facilities in communities and to change stigma surrounding the idea of assisted living care for the elderly.

“Some of these folks that live here can’t care for themselves,” said Herb Johnston, another resident. “These places are really important. Where are they going to go otherwise?”

Aiken, a popular retirement town, has many assisted living facilities for the elderly. As South Carolina’s senior population grows larger each year, assisted living facilities are becoming part of increasingly important – and growing – industry.

With Alzheimer’s on the rise and South Carolina ranking among the top states for Alzheimer’s rates, memory care facilities are among the forefront of that growing industry. National Assisted Living Week seeks to honor all those facilities and raise awareness about their importance.

“It’s such a hard decision to make as a family,” said Nicole Simmons, executive director of the Benton House of Aiken. “It’s one of those things where the passion is in our family, and our people love these residences. It feels like home, and they fall in love with their home."

Kristina Rackley is a general assignment reporter with the Aiken Standard.