From volunteer to executive director – a senior care journey

Ever since she was a young child, Deborah Veit felt the call to serve others.

In her early teens, she began volunteering as a candy striper at Gillette Children’s Hospital where her father worked, primarily helping the nurses care for patients. That’s when she knew she wanted to be a nurse.

“I just felt I was meant to be in a caregiver role,” Veit said.

After graduating from nursing school, Veit worked as a nurse in various nursing homes in the St. Paul area. Eventually, Veit felt a different calling that pulled her into ministry. She worked as a Christian Education Director for four churches in the suburbs, while continuing to work in nursing part-time.

After 15 years in ministry, she joined Episcopal Homes of Minnesota, working in their marketing department. Today, she is the executive director at Oak Meadows Senior Living where she has continued to serve Minnesota seniors.

“I want their life to be filled with joy, to be treated with dignity and to empower them to maintain their independence,” Veit said.

Veit was born and raised in East Saint Paul. She loves Minnesota’s changing seasons and how she shares a passion for health with many Minnesotans.

“I really respect how Minnesota is a state that cares for all people, no matter their socioeconomic status,” she said.

At Oak Meadows, Veit guides seniors through the process of moving into senior care. Her job is to be a reliable resource for seniors during their transition and as they make important life decisions.

“To know that this could potentially be their last home on earth makes what we do a great honor,” Veit said. “If I can support and help them [make] an informed decision then hopefully the transition will be easier for them.

One of the challenging trends Veit has seen over the course of her career is the acute shortage of professional caregivers. The senior population is growing so fast that by 2025, one in four Minnesota adults will be 65 years or older. Over the next decade, Minnesota will need an additional 25,000 professional caregivers to provide the care and services that the state’s booming senior population will need.

“The demand for caregivers is going to continue to grow as our older population grows and their care needs increase,” Veit said.

Veit hopes more young people will feel called to serve Minnesota’s older residents. She encourages new professional caregivers to make the job personal, like taking care of their own grandparents.

“Always keep that mindset,” Veit said. “You will be more loving and respectful. It’ll keep you humble.”

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