(l-r) Jill’s House Director of Operations Nicole Bays with Jan and Dave Gerkensmeyer. Photo by Martin Boling


When Jan Gerkensmeyer needed more care due to memory loss, she and her husband, Dave, faced a tough decision. They knew they couldn’t continue living in their lake cabin in Minnesota. Their daughter lives in Bloomington, so they came here, where they found Jill’s House, an assisted living facility focusing on memory care.

“All of us could see Jill’s House’s genuine love, warmth, and caring,” says Dave. “Those are qualities we needed.”

Jan, a former pediatric nurse, moved into the facility last November, soon after it reopened at 751 E. Tamarack Trail under new ownership by House Investments of Indianapolis. From 2008 to 2014, Jill’s House, named after Jill Behrman, who was abducted and killed in 2000, was a residence for the families of cancer patients being treated at Indiana University’s Proton Therapy Center, which has since closed. Jill’s parents agreed to keeping their daughter’s name on the repurposed building.

Jan says she struggles with loss of freedom, but she’s finding her niche. She enjoys walking with Dave, writing poetry, doing jigsaw puzzles, and helping other residents cope. “There’s a real emphasis here on helping people so they won’t feel lost or abandoned,” she says.

Presently, 18 people with dementia live in Jill’s House, which can accommodate up to 40 residents in studio apartments. Nicole Bays is director of operations, and her mother, Jan Bays, a physical therapist, is in charge of program development and training. In-room physical, speech, and occupational therapy is provided, as well as 24-hour nursing service.

The facility is divided into small neighborhoods of five to seven residents overseen by care partners. The care partners are all certified nursing assistants and qualified medical assistants who, Nicole says, focus on doing activities “with, not for, residents.” They help with personal needs, meals, light housekeeping, exercising, and medications, and join the residents in leisure activities.

“Care partners, knowing them well, help the residents be active participants in their own lives,” says Nicole. “It’s important to provide ways for them to rediscover their purpose and continue living meaningful lives. They get just the right amount of assistance to allow them to be as independent as possible.”

For more information, visit jillshousememorycare.com.