Life after caregiving: Helping former dementia caregivers re-enter life

Imagine waking up one day to find that the years you had committed to intensive caregiving for a family member are suddenly over. What do you do next? How do you focus your time and energy after so many long days caring for another? Those were the kinds of questions that Sheryl Fairbanks and Warren…

Leaving a legacy in long-term care

When she was 16 years old, Diane Holicky began what would become a lifelong journey in long-term care. Her mother worked in the laundry department of a senior care center, and Diane worked there as an aide. “Unknown to me at the time, I was instantly transformed into a long-term care employee,” Diane said. “I…

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…

Salvation Army adult day program promotes independence and empowers seniors

Thirty-seven years ago, the Salvation Army started an adult day program that welcomes anyone living with a physical or neurological condition. The program strives to promote independence and empower each individual to remain in a community setting – an alternative to assisted living centers and in-home care. The daily program has become a cornerstone of…

Supporting the mental health of caregivers, seniors, families

In 1989, Diane Knutson gave birth to her first child. She was living across the street from a skilled nursing/assisted living community at the time and would see the residents go for walks and enjoy the outdoors. “I’d watch them and think, ‘I bet they would really enjoy seeing my baby,’ so I went over…

Staples nurse recognized for 20 years of service at Lakewood Health System

After 20 years at Lakewood Health System in Staples, Kerry Weappa received the 2018 Nurse of the Year Award from Care Providers of Minnesota. “I was starstruck,” Kerry said. “It was a great honor.” Kerry’s grandmother had worked as a nursing assistant at Lakewood until she was in her 70s. “I felt comfortable working with…

A passion for helping others leads to innovative solutions in senior care

Since an early age Janelle Zimmerman knew it was in her blood to help others. Janelle’s parents both worked in long-term care throughout her childhood; her mom as a social worker and her dad as an administrator/regional director/purchasing director. “I have literally become my mom,” Janelle said with a laugh. “I started volunteering at the…

How one man changed my view on Alzheimer’s

I started my new role as an Administrator in July 2018 and during the first few weeks, a gentleman that sat across my office intrigued me. Norman Beeson reminded me of my grandfather. He was the type of guy you just wanted to hug and get to know. I often saw him wandering the hallways,…

Wilder Foundation’s Maureen Kenney on senior care: “Create communities across lifespans”

(Second of two parts) As we continued our conversation with Maureen Kenney, the Aging Services Director of the Wilder Foundation in St. Paul, we asked Kenney to speak to the caregiving landscape in Minnesota – what’s working, what further action is needed and how all Minnesotans can better support caregivers. (Responses edited for length.) Q:…

Senior living leader opens up about caregiver workforce challenges

As the Executive Director of Vista Prairie Communities, Rachael Evers sees firsthand the rewards and challenges of caring for seniors. But Evers worries about the growing demand for caregivers who provide the daily support many seniors need to age with dignity and respect. With Minnesota approaching one million residents 65 or older, she’s already seen…