Cassia in the News

Minnesota Family Directly Impacted by Alzheimer’s Breaks Ground on Parks’ Place, a New Family-Based Community That Reimagines Memory Care

Parks’ Place Memory Care Groundbreaking Celebration Continues Twin Cities Father’s Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Advocacy with Compassion-Based Programming and Care

Driven by their father’s diagnosis of Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s, a local family partnering with Augustana Care broke ground on January 10th for Parks’ Place: Memory Care Reimagined, a long-term care community that will open doors to families in the Twin Cities beginning in fall 2019. The groundbreaking was covered in a recent article in the Star Tribune.

A groundbreaking ceremony for Parks’ Place: Memory Care Reimagined was held January 10th at 18040 Medina Road in Plymouth, MN, directly after a free public reception at Peace Lutheran Church, 3695 County Rd 101 from 12:30pm-1:30pm.

When Mayo-Clinic diagnosed Jerry Parks, a former VP at a large Minneapolis construction company, with Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s at age 56, it provided some answers for the chaos the Parks’ family had been experiencing. It did not provide a template for what comes next.

“Every day spouses are being thrust into the new role of caregiver as they deal with the impact of this disease, but it is not every day you see the children of those effected by the disease spurred to action to change the face of memory care,” says Karen Parks, Jerry’s wife.

After the initial shock and grief that came with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it was Jerry who set the tone of action for his family. “We can spend our time mourning or be proactive and fight to make a difference,” his children remember him saying. Jerry immediately participated in drug trials and cognitive research at both Mayo Clinic and the University of MN. He served on the Alzheimer’s National Advisory Board and he and Karen testified before the Social Security Administration to expedite disability benefits for those affected by the disease. They traveled to Washington DC with the MN chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association six years in a row; their advocacy contributed to the effort that led to prioritized research funding proposed in the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), signed into law in January 2011.

When Jerry’s family began to explore long-term care communities, they were unsatisfied with options available for their husband and father. The Parks’ family began to envision a family-centered, positive caregiving community where friends and family would be excited to visit their loved one. With the support of spouses and other friends and family members they leveraged their extensive Alzheimer’s network to put their passion project in motion.

“Most care communities offer memory care as an afterthought, tucked away in a separate wing with outsourced caregivers,” says Jerry’s youngest daughter. “We had a vision of what we wanted our father’s care to look like. We sought to create a beautiful environment where family members could enjoy time with loved ones with dementia and, with the support of a caring community, be recognized as individuals with capabilities despite limitations.”

“This disease takes a village; we needed something different and were fortunate to find partners inspired by our story to help us create it,” added Jerry’s oldest daughter.

The Parks’ family purposefully acquired land near school and church neighborhood resources; they will leverage Augustana Care’s 150-plus years of experience in eldercare to deliver their vision. Parks’ Place will accommodate 36 residents and has been designed very specifically from the ground up, with well-organized spaces and natural light for those who want an elegant home environment with highly personalized care.  In addition to the meaningfully planned environment, an occupational therapy-based memory care program aims to focus on abilities rather than disabilities to help residents experience success.

The Parks’ family is excited to launch their vision for memory care reimagined at January’s groundbreaking ceremony.  Parks’ Place: By our family for your family.

About Parks’ Place

Founded in 2018, Parks’ Place was created by family members who have been touched directly by Alzheimer’s. Their experience moved them to reimagine memory care and create a community where families and residents can feel at home. Parks’ Place offers a meaningfully planned environment and programming that focuses on abilities rather than disabilities—and staff members who are passionate about providing highly personalized care to the people they serve.

About Augustana Care

Based in Minneapolis, the non-profit Augustana Care provides senior housing, health care and community-based services to older generations and others in need—and helps residents live the lives that most inspire them. The principles that guide its work are as follows:

  • To value older generations’ talents and experience
  • To provide the care residents need, when and where they need it
  • To connect residents to the people and things that mean the most to them
  • To support residents and families with spiritual care that speaks to who they are