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,…

Ten lessons Grandma taught me

For my grandmother’s 90th birthday, I created a little book to celebrate. I called all my cousins and sisters and gathered all the important lessons she taught us. Though she is gone now, there is no doubt that Grandma helped shape who I am today and how I feel about others and the world. Here…

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…

Wilder Foundation’s Maureen Kenney on senior care: “We’re all about relationship building”

(First of two parts) Maureen Kenney has lived in three worlds in senior care — as a professional caregiver, a leader in senior care and as a family caregiver. She wouldn’t have it any other way. Kenney spent several decades as a professional caregiver, including work at a residential group home and as a recreational…

Caregiver story map strikes a chord with Minnesotans

Since the debut of our caregiver story map, we have been overwhelmed with responses that reveal how deeply personal caregiving is for Minnesotans. Perhaps Gordon, who follows Face Aging MN on Facebook, said it best: “There are angels living with us here on earth, known as caregivers…we are privileged to have them in our midst.”…

A New Yorker finds her calling as a caregiver in Minnesota

Former New Yorker Diane Schmidt found her true home and calling when she visited Minnesota. Schmidt was born and raised in the city that never sleeps, but her life changed in 1988 when she decided to follow her parents and sister to Woodbury. “New York was wonderful in so many ways,” Schmidt said. “But if…

Minnesota couple continues 128-year legacy of compassionate senior care

St. Otto’s Care Center roots run deep in the town of Little Falls, Minn. The center was founded by the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, whose tradition of caring for the elderly began in 1891. Today, it remains a vibrant part of the community, having evolved into a 93-bed skilled nursing center that offers long-term…

Caregivers need to feel valued and supported, too

During her 45 years in the healthcare industry, Barbara (Barb) Starch has worked in a variety of roles — from orthopedic nurse to clinical coordinator. Starch lived on a farm in northeastern South Dakota before moving to Montevideo when she was 13. Two years later, Starch got her first paying job in caregiving at a…

Seniors appreciate more family time

One benefit of aging is having time to reflect, says Vickie Crompton of Borup, a community of about 100 people in northwest Minnesota. “Reaching that point in life of appreciating everything more is the best part about getting older,” says Vickie. Vickie wishes more people had a better understanding about aging and the importance of…