new new memory support

Memory Support at Wellspring

A Best FriendSM you can count on

When you think of your best friend, you surely think of all the memories you’ve shared, how you can complete each other’s sentences or communicate without ever saying a word, and all the great moments of belly laughter over the years. That’s because nobody knows you quite like your best friend.

As your family begins the journey through dementia, you can be assured your loved one will have a trusted best friend at Wellspring’s Senior Living Campus in Saginaw. It’s a new approach we’re taking in caring for your loved one. It’s called Best Friends℠ – and it’s changing the way to care for people facing memory-related illnesses. This model, developed by Virginia Bell and David Troxel at the University of Kentucky Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in the 1990s, is being used across the United States because it’s making a difference in the lives of people with dementia. Their Best Friends Approach represents the first comprehensive philosophy geared towards caregivers.

We start by getting to know your loved one, and all the things that have mattered to them throughout their lives. We then tailor a care plan that suits your loved one and you – because without that peace of mind, nothing else really matters.

Our memory support community has been designed for residents who live with memory-related illness. And our staff is specifically trained in the Best Friends℠ approach to care for your loved one.

What is the Best Friends Approach?

Unlike other methods of care, this philosophy asserts that what a person with dementia needs most of all is a friend – specifically a “Best Friend.” A Best Friend can be a family member, friend or staff member who empathizes with their situation, remains loving and positive and is dedicated to helping the person feel safe, secure and valued. The Best Friends Approach teaches caregivers how to have “knack,” which is defined as “the art of doing difficult things with ease” or “clever tricks and strategies.”

At the heart of The Best Friends Approach at Wellspring are the essential building blocks of friendship:

  • Respect
  • Empathy
  • Support
  • Trust
  • Humor

7 Elements of the Best Friends Approach

According to experts, The Best Friends Approach helps diminish the sense of pain and loss caused by dementia and has a powerful impact on both the person with memory loss and the caregiver. It focuses on seven primary components for taking on the role of a Best Friend with someone with memory loss. These include:

  1. Friends Know Each Other’s Personality and History. A Best Friend becomes the person’s memory, is sensitive to traditions and respects their personality, moods and problem-solving style.
  2. Friends Do Things Together. A Best Friend enjoys activities with the person with memory loss, involves the person in activities and chores, initiates activities, encourages the simple things in life and celebrates special occasions.
  3. Friends Communicate. A Best Friend listens skillfully, fills in the blanks, asks easy questions and encourages participation in conversations.
  4. Friendship Builds Self-Esteem. A Best Friend gives compliments often, carefully asks for advice or opinions and always offers encouragement and congratulations. For example, a person with dementia might mistakenly say, “President Eisenhower is doing a good job!” A caregiver without knack might say, “What’s wrong with you! Eisenhower hasn’t been president for decades!” This only confuses the person with dementia who has lost track of the passage of time. A caregiver with knack might respond, “Yes, I like Ike too,” thereby preserving the person’s dignity.
  5. Friends Laugh Together Often. Yes, using humor and laughing with a loved one is considered a valid form of memory care, as long as it is not mean-spirited. A Best Friend tells jokes and funny stories, is spontaneously fun and uses self-deprecating humor often.
  6. Friends Are Equals. A Best Friend doesn't talk down to people or assume a supervisory role, but instead works to help the person "save face" and knows that learning is a two-way street.
  7. Friends Work at the Relationship. A Best Friend is not overly sensitive, does more than half the work, builds a trusting relationship and shows affection often.

The Best Friends Approach allows for the makings of a win-win situation. When behavior is better, there is less frustration; and it’s easier to spend more time together. We all feel better when we are with our best friends.

Our experienced staff are extensively trained in the Best Friends Approach to care. They work individually with residents to learn their life stories and become Best Friends with our residents. They know how to emphasize strengths and abilities, encourage residents to participate in meaningful and fun activities and spend days together that are positive, upbeat and life-affirming.


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  • Sensory stimulation
  • Music therapy
  • Adaptive technology
  • Entertainment
  • Exercise
  • Devotions


  • Personalized care
  • Assistance with medications, bathing, & daily activities
  • Licensed nursing staff (RN & LPN)
  • Certified Nurse Aide supervisors around the clock
  • Pet therapy visits
  • Music therapy visits
  • Religious services
  • Staff trained in the Best Friends Approach
  • Laundry and linen service
  • Family-style dining (three meals a day)
  • Personally decorated private rooms
  • Comfortable living room area
  • Special activities designed by a coordinator trained in Alzheimer’s care programming
  • Licensed by the State of Michigan

Floor Plans

Photo Gallery



Adella receives memory support at Wellspring Lutheran Services Senior Living Campus in Saginaw. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2012. Listen as her daughter Marianne shares the story from what it was like as a caregiver to the relief she feels now that her mother is receiving the care she needs.

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