‘Living here makes me feel younger’

Northern Lakes provides resident-centered care in a beautiful setting in Baxter


Brenda White of Northern Lakes Senior Living, along with resident Bob Lewis. Bob and his wife, Artie, moved to Northern Lakes Senior Living in December. He has been happy with his choice to come to Northern Lakes. Photo by Cathy Nelson


Geri Cleland is all smiles as she watches for signs of wildlife out her apartment window at Northern Lakes Senior Living in Baxter. Cleland’s window overlooks the Northland Arboretum, a conservation area with nature trails, adjacent to her home at Northern Lakes.

“I mostly see squirrels,” she noted. “There are a few cross- country skiers that go by, which is exciting because I want to walk in the arboretum this summer.”

Cleland moved to Northern Lakes Senior Living in early January. “I loved it right away,” she said. She had lived with her daughter, Linda, and her husband for a while when she realized that something was missing from her life. “I was alone, and feeling lonely.” She emphasized, “I like people!” With her daughter’s support, she made the decision to move to Northern Lakes, and Cleland has been busy making friends and staying active ever since. “Living here helps me feel younger,” she said. She is walking and exercising more, going to classes and out for lunch and participating in numerous activities offered within the senior living community.

“All my needs are taken care of here,” she said, adding, “The staff are wonderful.” Besides the view from her window, Cleland is very happy with her apartment. She likes having her own washer and dryer and the option to cook for herself. “And you can’t believe the amount of storage space. I have all of my things here.”


Sarah Lueck, Bob Lewis and Geri Cleland in the Baxter Bistro at Northern Lakes Senior Living. Photo by Cathy Nelson


Bob Lewis and his wife, Artie, moved to Northern Lakes Senior Living in December, and they eat all of their meals with Cleland. Bob and Artie are happy in their new home. “The people here are helpful and friendly,” he said. Bob, a former sixth-grade teacher, enjoys the Monday morning activity, “Reading and Visiting with Pastor Jerry.”

Kerry Conlin, sales and outreach director, said Northern Lakes Senior Living is different from other senior living communities.

“We have resident-centered care. What matters to us is how we relate to one another and how we listen and how we respond. We are relational, and we’re successful when our residents are happy and cared for.”

Being a ‘new, beautiful, shiny’ community is not what is important. It’s all about the care, all about the individual.”

“We don’t want anyone to have to fit into our puzzle,” Conlin explained. “We want to create the puzzle together.” A team of people, including health care professionals, the resident and their family members and Conlin, works together to make decisions about an individual’s needs and level of care. Family involvement is very important and is strongly encouraged.

Northern Lakes has partnered with Dr. Julie Olson from Essentia Health St. Joseph’s-Brainerd Clinic. Dr. Olson has years of experience caring for geriatric patients. A benefit of this unique partnership is that if a resident chooses to have Dr. Olson be their primary doctor, appointments can take place in the resident’s own apartment.

Northern Lakes Senior Living opened in mid-October 2015. The senior living community is located next to Northland Arboretum and is near walking trails which connect to the Paul Bunyan State Trail. The senior living community offers independent living, assisted living and memory care options. The apartments have a variety of floor plans, including studio, one and one-bedroom plus den plans.

There are 29 assisted living apartments at Northern Lakes Senior Living. Assisted living includes three meals a day, weekly housekeeping, laundry services and care staff on site 24 hours a day. Personal care and health care services tailored to the individual are also available.

There are 39 memory apartments. Memory care neighborhoods feature private studio apartments with private baths and family dining and living rooms. Conlin is often asked if a spouse can live with their spouse who has a memory impairment. The answer is “Yes.”


Lisa Brown of Northern Lakes pays a visit to Betty Kidder in Kidder’s apartment. Photo by Cathy Nelson


Bari Rahn’s mother, Betty Kidder, is a resident of memory care at Northern Lakes. Kidder’s children wanted their mother to be closer to one of them because of her memory loss and other health problems. Rahn was thrilled when Northern Lakes opened up, and Kidder was able to move in.

“It’s lovely here,” she said. “The staff are warm and welcoming and approachable. They answer my questions.” Rahn is grateful that her mother is receiving good care and that she is nearby to make frequent visits. The two of them have weekly lunch dates at the Bistro, a community restaurant down the hall from Kidder’s apartment.

Northern Lakes prides itself on being part of the greater Brainerd/Baxter community. “We want to invite the public in,” said Conlin. “We want buildings full of life.”

The Baxter Bistro is open to the public for limited hours during lunch time, and the community room at Northern Lakes is available for groups or businesses to use for meetings or training. They want members of the community to feel welcome there as well as for their residents to feel like they’re a part of the greater community.

Northern Lakes Senior Living is located at 8186 Excelsior Road, Baxter, MN 56425. Contact Kerry Conlin at 218-454-2121 or kconlin2@Fairview.org for more information or to set up a tour.

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