Working in long-term care means having a lasting impact

“Seniors are our wisdom keepers,” says Mary Nell Zellner, a senior health care consultant based in St. Paul, Minnesota. “They are our legacy.”

Mary Nell says that of all the states she has been blessed to work, she feels Minnesota has a value system that prioritizes our people. “We are here to help elders in our own families, of course, but beyond our own families, we’re here to serve seniors and make the world a better place. Our parents and family gave us our childhood and our security. It’s the least we can do to serve them, care for them and be there for them.”

Mary Nell’s own parents are in their eighties and still living at home. “It puts a different face on it to see some of the increased needs and an aging shift happening,” Mary Nell says. “And I’m the middle child so I’m the self-proclaimed diplomat in the family. It’s up to my siblings and me to take any potential fear away, underline the choices and goals they have, and make sure to honor their goals and wishes.”

Mary Nell Zellner

Mary Nell points out that it’s important to have these discussions before a situation turns critical. “It’s easier to have a discussion and plan when not in crisis. You can do it sitting around the table. I think we’ll be able to honor my parents well. We’ve really tried to individualize as best as we can the support that they want now and plan to do so in the future.”

A big part of facing aging in our state is funding, says Mary Nell. “I do a great deal of work with market studies and new development for health care ventures. I think one thing we lose sight of is that saving for our future is still a problem. We’ve seen that some baby boomers saved well and some didn’t. Funding for services will be a top issue.”

Mary Nell emphasizes that there’s no better impact area to serve than working in long-term care. “You get the privilege to serve people and give your best effort and work. It’s an industry with a never-ending learning curve which is terrific. You totally just get to give and grow. The main factor in working in senior care is to fill up your heart.” Mary Nell encourages many youth to get involved in our senior care and services profession. “It clearly is the best work in the world!”

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