Making memories every day as a TMA

“I don’t think a day goes by that there’s not memories made,” says Jean Happke, a trained medical assistant (TMA) at Pierz Villa in Pierz, Minnesota. “I have taken seniors out for a ride around the block, or to look at Christmas lights. There’s a resident who wanted to go through her closet, so we…

Facing Aging on Mother’s Day: mortality, imagination and the stuff

My mother is on a mission. She is circulating a list of her and my father’s household and personal belongings that she considers valuable to her children. The mission is for my sister, brother and me to identify what we might like to have after she and my dad have died. Once we fulfill our…

Mother and daughter share passion for long-term care

Shayla Mahmalji and Marti Brende carpool to work every day. Shayla works in human resources, and Marti works in social services, but both daughter and mother share a passion for long-term care and love their jobs at Aftenro Home in Duluth, Minnesota. “I’ve been in and around long-term care my whole life,” says Shayla. “I…

Helping others is the best part

“The reward in the long run is worth every bit of time put into your job,” says Julia Urdahl, a CNA at Prairie Pines Community Assisted Living in Fosston, Minnesota.  Julia’s grandmother was a RN and told Julia that if she wanted to go into nursing, she needed to work as a CNA at a…

Training the next generation of passionate long-term care leaders

Last year, professor Steve Chies taught a class of 48 students who were entering a one-year practicum to train as long-term care administrators. “Out of the 48, 46 of them were millennials. It gave me great hope in our sector that we have good leaders coming up in millennials,” says Steve. “They’re passionate, enthusiastic and…

The privilege of impacting lives in senior care

Sharon St. Mary, Executive Director for Metro Minnesota with the Good Samaritan Society, found herself in a position not so unique to many career caregivers. When she wasn’t working in the field she loves, she was using her professional skills to care for her aging parents. “The fact of the matter is, we will all…

Caring for seniors through integrative therapy

Kendra Willey said she was employed from the time she was 14 years old, but she never really loved work—until she started working with seniors. A friend recommended that Kendra work as a dietary aid in college, and she began working at a skilled nursing facility in Bloomington, Minnesota. “I looked forward to going to…

A lifelong passion for long-term care

One summer in college, Annette Thorson thought about working on a dude ranch in Montana, but her mother didn’t approve. Instead, Annette took a job at a local nursing home, and found her lifelong passion. She started working in laundry and then became involved in activities. “I just fell in love with it,” says Annette.…