The rewards of caregiving as a lifetime career

Working in the long-term care profession has allowed Jennifer Hissam to have meaningful relationships with the elderly. “To be a part of later years with older adults has meant the world to me,” says Jennifer, who explains that she lost her dad at a young age. “My children have not had the experience of having…

Minnesota is swimming in the deep sea of the caregiver shortage

Growing up in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, Margo Paplow often visited the local nursing homes where her mother worked as a nurse.   As far back as she can remember, Paplow knew she wanted to work in medicine, so when she turned 15, she began to work with her mom at the nursing home…

Stop to visit with an elder this holiday season

Speaking with your elders might get you thinking – what did Grandma and Grandpa get for Christmas? It might have been a piece of fruit, a wooden toy their father carved for them, a book, a dress or a pair of shoes. Take time to visit and have these conversations with older loved ones in…

Loving our seniors means empowering our caregivers

“I have a mom who has dementia,” says Gladys Aakre, RN and Director of Home Care at SilverCreek on Main in Maple Grove. “This is why I’m really drawn to taking care of our seniors.” Walking the aging journey with her mother has helped Gladys understand the importance and the value of professional caregivers. Glady’s…

Making senior care where everyone wants to work

As a young professional himself, 23-year-old Casey Ward wants Minnesota’s young people to know how rewarding and impactful a caregiving career is. In September 2017, Casey became administrator at Good Samaritan Society in International Falls, a town of 6,000 in northern Minnesota. The facility provides home care services, including skilled nursing, personal care and therapy.…

Caring for a senior loved one is the most important opportunity you could have

Missy Jenner of Grand Rapids was inspired by her strong relationship with her grandparents to become a professional senior caregiver –  a career that would span more than 40 years. Missy remembers her grandmother’s perseverance and dedication to fighting cancer and becoming a great cook regardless of her circumstances. “My grandma had her right arm…

Lifelong educator Scott Rohr finds his passion in senior care

In the fall of 2015, Scott Rohr’s parents passed away 70 days apart – in the same room and the same bed. During the final stages of their lives, Scott saw something in the caregivers who provided critical support to his parents. He was moved by how every day they treated them with kindness and…

First in Minnesota: High school gerontology course changes perspectives on aging

About 18 months ago, Julie Mundahl, a family and consumer sciences (FACS) teacher at Buffalo High School, had a meeting with a group of local business leaders to discuss career development for her students. One of the topics was the rising demand for professional caregivers in Buffalo and across Minnesota. By 2025, one million Minnesotans…

Why I started an Alzheimer’s support group – and never left

I became trained as an Alzheimer’s support group facilitator while I was still the caregiver for my late husband. For me to cope with the Alzheimer’s caregiving journey, I needed to educate myself, understand the disease and connect with others. Understanding the facts, potential issues and strategies kept me sane from the horrible emotion of…

Jenna Pogorels helps Alzheimer’s patients and their families face the challenge

Jenna Pogorels knows the fears and the countless questions families go through when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. Pogorels is the senior program manager for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Duluth office, which has been providing support to people with dementia since 1979. Pogorels and her colleagues deliver…

Caregiving careers offer opportunities and purpose

Sherrie Bennett recalls the first senior she cared for as a teenager and the deep connection she made with her resident. “It was like they were my own grandparent,” says Sherrie. “That’s an experience that I’ll never forget.” Today, Sherrie is Housing Manager at Meadow Creek Hospitality, an assisted living facility in the small town…