Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Perfect harmony

Posted on

Rev. Norman Madson found harmony through the friends he’s made and from his singing. Until his health took a turn for the worse, you’d often find him singing hymns in the front living room of Vista Prairie at Monarch Meadows. Usually, he doesn’t need his hymnal since he’d committed so many songs to memory.

Following his move-in last November, he quickly became acquainted with fellow residents. “It’s through the dining area where I have made my friends,” he says. One of our largest communities, Monarch Meadows is located close to the North Mankato townhouse where Norman and his wife Amanda lived, before she passed away about four years ago.

His son was instrumental with the move. “We just liked what we saw,” Norman recalls, “so when it was time for me to move out of my apartment, this was the place to go. I’m real satisfied with the decision.”

Rev. Madson was no stranger to moving. Through his 43-year career in the pulpit, he served Lutheran parishes in five Minnesota and Wisconsin communities. And during that time, he and his wife raised five children. His near-by son Michael stops in every day; they often enjoy watching sports together.

But beyond his love for Minnesota sports teams, it’s the hymn singing that sustains him. “My father was a pastor also,” he said. “Hymn singing was a big part of our family life. I had six brothers and sisters and we learned hymns by heart. Many of them I still know. When I go to bed, I say my regular evening prayers and then I’ll sing in bed all by myself. I’ll sing from six to a dozen hymns before I fall asleep.”

Norman mentioned that his memory is starting to fail. But how many of us can sing a dozen songs of any sort by memory? And what’s his favorite hymn? Without a beat, he recites the first verse —

“If thou but suffer God to guide thee,
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He’ll give thee strength whate’er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days.
Who trusts in God’s unchanging word,
Builds on the rock that naught can move.”

He adds that his daughter Liz carries on in a ministry of her own. She started a Wisconsin greeting card company, Hymns in My Heart, that designs and sells cards comprised only of hymns.

Joy for Joyce

Posted on

The joy on Joyce’s face was evident when Kacee visited Vista Prairie at Copperleaf in Willmar, MN. One hundred-year-old Joyce was one of about a dozen Copperleaf residents who gathered last month to greet Kacee, her canine companion Luna, and their owner/trainers Al and Claudia Balay.

Kacee and Luna are both rescue dogs. Their regular inside visits recently resumed after COVID visiting guidelines eased.  They became regular Copperleaf visitors after Al’s mother Gertie moved into Copperleaf more than five years ago. “We liked that mom was in a smaller facility like this where the staff gets to know her and the staff gets to know us,” Al reflected.

Al has been a veterinarian for 44 years. For 25 of those years, he directed and expanded the Veterinary Technician program at Willmar’s Ridgewater College.  He and Claudia manage a horse farm near New London where they board and care for 16 horses, with the help of farm dogs, Luna and Kacee.

Claudia also stays active working with youth involved in 4-H. Kacee has scored highly in 4-H competition at the county and state level. “She enjoys her work a lot,” says Claudia, crediting Kacee, “as you could probably see when she was vocalizing for the residents.”

Benefits for the residents are obvious now that the dogs’ visits have resumed. What do Al and Claudia get out of it?  “Making people smile,” Claudia says without hesitation. “It’s very satisfying for me to know that I can give back through the animals.”

“My mom loves the dogs too,” Al adds. “When we were restricted through COVID, we would walk out around behind the building and still brought the dogs so she and the other residents could see them through the window.”

Copperleaf senior living community offers 55 one-and-two-bedroom assisted living apartments, 20 memory care suites and seven care suites, providing 24-hour continuous senior care.

Christmas came early

Posted on

For the past year, Tammy Roemhildt has carried out a challenging role on the staff of Vista Prairie at Monarch Meadows in North Mankato, MN. As the Lead Care Manager, she’s responsible to ensure that the community is appropriately staffed, 24-7, to provide the care that residents need. And in these pandemic times, when staffing issues are well known in every profession, it’s the most stressful part of Tammy’s work.

As for the best part of the job, “It’s the residents, every single day,” Tammy quickly answers. “The staff who work here are pretty great and they’re hearing from residents how much we’re truly appreciated.” She also qualifies her staffing frustrations, “I don’t even really hate that because in the end, I see success. The teamwork is phenomenal.”

Tammy’s colleagues noticed. They nominated her for statewide recognition from LeadingAge, Minnesota’s largest senior care association.

Tammy is no stranger to adversity. Among other personal challenges, she encountered spinal meningitis when she was a young girl. “I could have had physical limitations the rest of my life,” she explains, “but somehow I popped through. I could have been a recipient of the care I’m now providing to others.” She also overcame ovarian and cervical cancer at the age of 23.

Through all that adversity, she’s been a role model and career mentor to her own adult daughter. As a thank-you for her support, her daughter presented an early Holiday gift – 50-yard-line tickets to last month’s Vikings-Packers football game for Tammy and her husband. Tammy was rooting for the Packers while her husband is a Vikings fan. That epic struggle is a good symbol for the challenges Tammy has faced in her life.

“Life gets tough” Tammy says, “and you just have to push through. When I come in at 6 a.m. I know there’s somebody else going through something totally different. You gotta make those sacrifices.”

Monarch Meadows, located in North Mankato, MN is one of our largest communities, with 86 one-and-two-bedroom assisted living apartments and 12 care suites. Call David at (507) 933-4681 to book a tour.

Passion, Purpose and Flexibility

Posted on

Shirley’s long-time passion was downhill skiing. She’s standing next to a framed collection of patches from all the mountains where she and Marvin skied during much of their 65- year marriage. Marv passed away a few months after they moved into Vista Prairie at Goldfinch Estates in Fairmont, MN. Now 90, Shirley’s fellow Goldfinch residents became her family, along with two children, four grand-kinds and five great grand-children, one of whom she recently met for the first time.

While childrearing and skiing were among Shirley’s passions, her lifelong purpose was “helping.” Her career in nursing evolved to leadership and administration in Estherville, Iowa, where she started the School of Nursing at Iowa Lakes Community College.

“Then they moved the school to Emmetsburg,” Shirley recounts. “That made the driving too much for me so they asked if I would be director of nursing at Holy Family Hospital, which I did for a long time.”

Shirley’s career flexibility set up her third chapter in nursing after she and Marv moved to Fairmont. She directed services at a half-way house and an outpatient center treating people with chemical dependency. She served her final nursing role for people who were incarcerated in the Martin County jail, retiring when she was 77. 

As we enter the 21st month of this pandemic, Shirley still has the mind of a nurse. She laments that not as many people are vaccinated as should be. “I think the messages are mixed,” she says. “I think the science is good but then people begin to go out on their own. ‘The government isn’t going to tell me what to do.’ Well, they tell you; you have to wear a seatbelt. They tell you; you can’t drive more than so many miles an hour. What’s the big deal?”

Shirley skied until she was 77. “Skiing is my claim to fame,” she sums up. She and Marv skied together all over the world, much of it after Marv lost one of his legs to cancer. “They told him when they amputated that he only had a 20 percent chance of living,” Shirley remembers. “And he lived 30 years.”

The Goldfinch Estates community offers 92 one and two-bedroom apartments, like Shirley’s, for seniors who want access to supportive services while maintaining their independence.  We also offer 41 memory care suites that provide a long-term option for seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

Sharing her smile

Posted on

Smiles come naturally for Rose Gibson, especially this one. Her photo was taken the day Olivia was born, her second great grandchild. Her smile was a frequent comment in many of the cards celebrating Rose’s recent 98th birthday. “Isn’t that something?” she ponders.

Rose and husband Warren moved into Vista Prairie at Windmill Ponds in Alexandria about six years ago. Warren passed away a few months later, so the staff and her fellow residents became Rose’s family. “I really like this place,” Rose says.  

Rose and Warren lived in three neighboring states during their 65-year marriage, while Warren pursued a financial services career. Locations included Fargo, North Dakota and Eau Claire, Wisconsin, as well as four Minnesota communities: St. Paul, Rochester, South St. Paul and finally settling in the Alexandria area where Warren was a bank president.

When the family lived in South St. Paul, Rose served as the hospital auxiliary president for Divine Redeemer. She was instrumental in raising funds for the hospital’s first ambulance. The effort included a two-night variety show complete with a producer and costumes from New York City. Rose had just one word to describe the feeling when they took delivery of the ambulance, “Awesome!” she recounted. “It was a great thing and they really appreciated it. It was so much fun, and everybody felt good.”

Rose and Warren’s move to Windmill Ponds was partially prompted by Rose’s two strokes in 2014. “I’m thankful that they didn’t affect my mind and my right hand,” Rose says. She’s also still bringing smiles to other people. “I make greeting cards, and I still can do it.”

Windmill Ponds offers assisted living in 65 one- and two-bedroom apartments, designed for seniors who enjoy an active social environment and expect high quality care.