Image of our Veteran, Eleanor, as a young Marine sitting on the steps at Camp Lejeune

99 Year Old Veteran Stays Connected to Family


When asked to describe her mother, Katherine chuckled a little bit. She used words like loving, caring, strong, and focused. Eleanor, a wife, mother and 99-year-old Marine, displayed deep-seated values, faith, and morals throughout her life. She grew up during the Depression so saving was always a priority. Serving as a Marine during WWII also shaped Eleanor’s life in many ways.

Lessons Learned in the Military Became Life-Long Lessons

Eleanor applied many of the lessons she learned in the military in her everyday life. For example, when chores were to be done, it was all hands-on deck. Katherine remembers many days that relaxing was a luxury that was seldom to be had. All the chores had to be done before any leisure time was to be enjoyed. Priority was to keep the house nice and tidy just like a Marine.Many happy days were spent with family and friends. Various activities that Eleanor enjoyed during her lifetime included square dancing, playing cards with friends, enjoying time at the cabin, sewing club, and working at church. She enjoyed cooking and baking; whether it was delicious pies and cookies or homemade soups, boiled dinners, and lasagna.

Connecting with Family is a Priority

A photograph of Eleanor with her large extended family.
Eleanor enjoyed many family get togethers.

A big part of her life with her husband, William, was spending time with family. She especially enjoyed her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They enjoyed a long life together, 64 years, but unfortunately Eleanor became a widow 8 years ago. It was a devastating loss for her because they did so much together and relied on each other for support. William was a gentleman and always took care of the love of his life.

An image of Eleanor in uniform saluting at Camp Lejeune.
An image of Eleanor in uniform saluting at Camp Lejeune.


Everyone Could Benefit from Service to our Country

Eleanor describes her service to her country as one of the best things that happened during that time of her life. She feels that everyone would benefit by serving our country. Her Marine experience was at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina ( during WWII where she did office work. It was a new camp at the time to help to prepare warfighters for combat and humanitarian missions abroad.


Katherine and her husband, Brian, come to visit her a few times a week when indoor visiting is available. Visits outside her bedroom window were even made during the cold winter months as was displayed on the front page of the Star Tribune paper recently.

Eleanor moved into Prairie Senior Cottages during the pandemic in July. Katherine shared that our staff helped make the transition an easy one. “The staff did an amazing job in setting up her room and having it all ready for her the day Eleanor arrived.” Cottage Director, Jamie, lovingly described Eleanor and her family as being sensitive, kind and big huggers. She said, “Eleanor’s biggest joy was her family and it showed throughout her entire lifetime.”

Eleanor celebrated her 99th birthday in December and made it to her heavenly home recently. The team at Prairie Senior Cottage of Isanti ( )are so thankful to have gotten to know Eleanor and her family and care for her.

Caregiver Training Making a Difference

     The world of dementia care is constantly evolving, and our goal at Prairie Senior Cottages is to always be at the forefront of discovering new developments. By pursuing the best care practices for individuals living with dementia, and ensuring that our staff has not only up-to-date but continued training, we can best provide a safe, welcoming environment for our residents and staff.

Working Together for Dementia Care

      We are proud to work together with Jane Unzeitig, RN, our dementia care specialist certified in the Positive Approach to Care (PAC) training method developed by world-renowned specialist Teepa Snow ( ). Unzeitig is a seasoned nurse, and has worked with seniors for the majority of her career; the last seven years she has been almost exclusively in memory care. Jane attended an initial talk from Snow, and was mesmerized by the knowledge and positive approach to dementia care that was shared. From there, Unzeitig attended a two-day training in St. Louis, and has since been sharing what she has learned and educating our directors, nurses, and staff at each of our Cottages. Snow’s approach is centered around three things: developing awareness, spreading knowledge, and teaching skills to transform what exits into a more positive dementia care culture.

What Sets Us Apart     

     What makes the PAC trainings different from other forms of healthcare education is that they are hands on. They allow caregivers to experience simulated dementia symptoms as well as to practice methods of care with their coworkers. Additionally, special attention is given to explaining how the brain is physically impacted by dementia, and how that manifests as behaviors and reactions in residents. These tools are invaluable to caregivers. Unzeitig recalled a story in which a caregiver told her that they were planning to put in their notice after really struggling with the job. But, after that caregiver went through the PAC training with Unzeitig, they decided to stay.

Positive Responses

     Christina Hebrink, the director of our Cottage in Willmar ( ), noted that after her staff completed the PAC training, several of them approached her to share things that they had learned during the program that they found interesting. Additionally, Hebrink has observed how the tools her staff learned from the training have been highly effective, promoting a better experience for both staff and residents. Willmar is currently in the process of scheduling a second round of training for their newest staff members. However, other members of the staff that were present for the first training asked Hebrink if they could sign up to do the course again. Says Hebrink, “That tells me they not only learned from the experience but they also enjoyed it so much they wanted to do it a second time.”

     The profound impacts that the PAC trainings have had in our communities continue to amaze us. A dementia diagnosis is a challenging journey, but we have seen so many people flourish by focusing not on the things they have lost, but on the skills that they still have. Helping people living with memory loss to live their lives to the fullest potential is our ultimate goal, and we strive for that at every step along the way.

Caregivers practice using the PAC hand under hand technique while feeding. 

The goggles help our caregivers understand resident’s diminished perception.