I’m approaching my 35-year anniversary as a caregiver, and I can tell you that I love this career and I’m very happy I found it. This profession is not easy, but it is very rewarding.
Here in Martin County, our senior population is growing by leaps and bounds. Right now, 28 percent of adults in Martin County are age 65 or older. By 2030, that percentage will rise to 38 percent. This means there’s a real need for caregivers here, including where I work in Fairmont.
In many families in the Fairmont community, Mom and Dad are still living on their own for financial reasons and because it’s where they’ve been for 50+ years. My own parents have lived in their own home for over 50 years and they are very content. They like their neighborhood and have seen a lot of changes. They remember homes that once had families and now have been taken down. They remember when kids were out playing baseball and football, and they’ll tell you about one year when the neighborhood kids put on a parade for everyone.
My parents are still independent, but I’ve started to worry more about them as they’ve gotten older, like all adult children do.
For some families, an elderly relative may have progressed to the point where they can’t maintain their home. The family may want to move their loved one to an apartment where they can be around a more close-knit group of people. That’s when it’s beneficial to have senior living options – and that’s where caregivers step in. Some people are looking for long-term stays and some for short-term, but most need a level of support from trained senior care professionals.
To address the need for caregivers in Martin County and every county in Minnesota, we must be willing to be creative about ways to recruit. I don’t think people totally know what caregiving is all about. If you don’t have a family member or know someone in this profession, it would be hard for you to know.
It’s also important that caregivers have the chance to advance in their careers, like I did when I became a certified Health Support Specialist. It opened my eyes to many different aspects of the profession and acted as a springboard to new opportunities. Now, if I want to continue my education to be a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or RN, I can.
As a society, we must get rid of the old stigma that caregiving is basically bedpans – it’s not. It’s working with people, enjoying people and creating memories. When I see residents smile or laugh, it’s priceless.
Here at Lakeview, we now share our building with a childcare center, and it’s been so beneficial for everyone involved. One of our residents gets up a certain time every day so she can be down at the front door to greet her “kiddos” as they walk in. One day, some of the kids came up to her floor. When the kids got off the elevator and saw this resident, they greeted her as “grandma” and called her by name. That’s precious – and just one example of the kinds of rewarding moments I witness every day as a caregiver.
The bottom line is, I love my job. I think the world of the staff I work with and consider them family. I love my residents. Having a personal connection with seniors is just so rewarding. I encourage anyone looking for a new career to give it a try.
Mike Maday is a Care Manager at Lakeview Methodist Healthcare Center in Fairmont, Minnesota.