Tanya Welch learned about the value of senior care during the final years of her mother’s life.
Tanya’s mother was stricken with Alzheimer’s and was moved to a senior care center when her caregiving needs expanded beyond what Tanya’s family could provide. Tanya would regularly visit her mother, continuing to find ways to make a connection even in her final days.
Watching the empathy and support from caregivers motivated Tanya to consider a career in senior care.
“It’s had a tremendous effect on my work,” Tanya says. “My mother was the first person I knew with Alzheimer’s.”
Four years ago, Tanya joined the Minneapolis Walker Methodist Health Center’s financial department, assisting families with health insurance and other issues. Walker Methodist is a faith-based, non-profit senior living organization that’s been serving older adults since 1945. The Walker Methodist footprint in the Minnesota Twin Cities’ Metro Area is expansive and offers assisted living, independent living, care suites, memory care and affordable housing that spans as far south as Lakeville and as far north as Coon Rapids.
“Walker Methodist is compassionate and helps its staff learn and grow within the organization,” Tanya says. “It’s a great place to live and work.”
After seeing Tanya’s compassion and drive to help seniors and their families, Walker Methodist’s leadership selected her to participate in their internship program – a big first step towards her eventually becoming a licensed nursing home administrator.
During her internship, Tanya continued her work in the financial department while shadowing resident services managers and interacting with residents who would share their life stories. Welch considers the relationships she has built with the seniors over the years to be her favorite part about her job.
“I’ve heard so many great stories from our residents, it would be wrong to pick just one favorite moment,” she says.
For Tanya, working at Walker Methodist has dispelled many common misconceptions people might have about seniors and senior care.
“When people hear ‘skilled nursing center’ they often mistake it for an old-school institutionalized place for the elderly,” Tanya says. “It’s modern and everything has shifted to complete personal centered care – our goal is for each resident to be at their complete best.”
When asked why it’s important for more Minnesotans to embrace aging, Tanya explained that aging is a natural part of life, and we need to realize that, as a population, we are all aging. In fact, one in four Minnesotans will be 65 or older by 2030.
“Aging is happening right now, and as individuals, we have a duty to share and tell more about it,” Tanya says.
Now that Welch has received her license as a nursing home administrator she looks forward to the day when she can run her own care center. “I’ve always cared about seniors, but now I have a passion for them,” Tanya says.
In the meantime, Tanya looks forward to her involvement in the Walker Methodist Leadership Development Program a yearlong program that incorporates servant leadership training, and overall knowledge of what it takes to be a leader.
“I want to make sure our residents always get what they need; I speak up on their behalf,” she says.
Through her work, Tanya urges all Minnesotans to volunteer their time and lend a hand in their communities to help seniors.
“It’s rewarding, honorable and shows respect,” she says. “You’re helping someone who was once in your same shoes.”
You can find more information about Walker Methodist Health Center by visiting their website at walkermethodist.org/health-center.
Aaron J. Roundtree is a regular contributor to Face Aging MN. If you want to reach him or have any questions, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have your own story to share? We’d love to hear from you.