Missy Keenan found her calling as a caregiver thirteen and a half years ago.
Keenan, a CNA (certified nursing assistant), TMA (trained medical aid), Health Support Specialist, and Household Manager at Good Shepherd Lutheran Services in Rushford, Minnesota, says helping others is in her blood. “It’s I guess a calling. My dad was a nurse and I just learned from him. I’ve always wanted to take care of people.”
Knowing she is giving residents excellent care is greatly rewarding for Keenan. She loves seeing how residents who don’t have any family or residents who are feeling down light up when she walks in a room. “They’ve worked very hard for anything that they’ve had in life, and just being able to give back to them is something that they deserve.”
Having to let go of residents at the end of their lives is a challenging part of her profession, says Keenan. “For some of them who don’t have family, it’s hard to see them have to do this by themselves so I try to be there for them—hold their hand if I can, or give them a pat on the back or just sit by them for a while to let them know that they’re not alone.”
As a result of the 2015 senior care reforms implemented by the Minnesota legislature, Keenan received a wage increase, which she says was wonderful and reaffirms her commitment as a caregiver.
Keenan’s career as a caregiver has influenced her perspective on aging. “You can learn a lot from the residents’ life experiences – just some of the crazy stories you probably wouldn’t believe actually happened but did happen. They’re a person, not just a paycheck to you. They give new meaning to life.”
When asked her advice for someone considering a career in senior care, Keenan encourages anyone entering the caregiving profession to realize that it’s going to make you a better person. “It’s going to give you more confidence, and even if it’s only for a short time like being a CNA while you’re going to school, it’s something that I think we need to do because you learn a different perspective on life. You learn that life is worth living and it makes you feel better about yourself, too.”