“It is my calling”

“Someone took care of me throughout my life and now it’s my turn to give back others,” says Vanessa Holm, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and trained medical assistant (TMA) at Good Samaritan Society in Howard Lake, Minnesota. “It is my calling.” Vanessa says she was inspired to become a caregiver because she cares about…

Coming to common ground on caring for seniors

When you’re a professional caregiver, you get to know the families of residents fairly well sometimes. With some of our residents, I feel like an extended part of their family. In return, they are my family. We’re there to help support each other. That’s all part of it—you have to care. You have to care…

Surviving breast cancer—twice

The first time the doctor told me I had breast cancer, I remember not wanting to tell my husband. We had married as widowers, and his first wife and other family members had died of cancer. One of my aunts had also died of breast cancer. But since they caught the cancer early, during a…

Twenty-two boxes

I had lived through pancreatic and breast cancers. As a single mom, I could not afford to continue living in my beautiful home in Eagan. My young daughters and I found a small fixer upper in the northern metro. As an artist, I saw the house as a canvas just waiting to be transformed. And,…

The Great Minnesota Get-Together starts today

That’s right, that harbinger of the end of summer, the Minnesota State Fair is now underway! It’s been a Minnesota institution for more than 150 years, but it’s apparently aging well. Attendance records have been set several times in the past few years. This year, there are some new attractions at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.…

Occasionally caring for grandkids could boost your longevity

New research published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior suggests that seniors who occasionally help care for grandkids tend to live longer than seniors who do not care for young relatives. Study participants who did not have grandchildren but supported others in their community like adult children or neighbors also tended to live longer…

Caregiving: It’s About Compassion

When Staci Beranek was five or six years old, she visited her great-grandmother at an assisted living facility and the experience left a permanent impression. It helped inspire her to pursue a career caring for seniors, and she has now been a caregiver for almost seven years. As a CNA (certified nursing assistant) and TMA…

Giving up the car keys

To many older people, and younger ones, too, driving is an active symbol of independence. Giving up the keys is a huge event, and one with which loved ones struggle. If you are concerned about an aging relative’s ability to drive safely, it is critically important to address the issue before an accident happens. In…

Mind-stimulating activities may reduce risk of dementia in aging brain

Activities like playing chess, making crafts, and socializing could help keep the aging mind sharp, new research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine shows. Nearly 2,000 seniors from Olmsted County in Minnesota participated in the study, ranging in age from 70 to 93. Researchers found that even among participants who carried a gene variation…

Caregivers: Sharing Sunshine

While I’m still a pretty independent gal, it’s nice to have others check on me. That’s why I’m thankful for aids like Sunshine who regularly drop by to see how I’m doing. As everyone here at my assisted living facility knows, Sunshine lives up to her name with her bright smile and warm nature. She…