The global community is aging at an accelrated rate. By the year 2050, the number of elders in the world is expected to double. Aging in America has become a growing epidemic. This places more pressure on family caregivers. Unfortunately, the health of caregivers is on the decline due to caregiver stress & burnout. Unfortunately, there are not many organizations that focus on caregiver health. Teri McElrath, Founder & CEO of Kare Visits, saw an opportunity to develop solutions to alleviate caregiver strain. Her 20 years of HR experience led to the development of a Corporate Caregiver Health & Wellness Program.
Professional Development & Leadership
My leadership journey started working in hospitality. While studying Political Science at Loyola University and working as a Concierge at the Hyatt Hotels, I learned the importance of hard work and a good first impression. While visiting the HR office, I saw people taking care of employees. I was not sure what Human Resources was, but curious nonetheless. I met with my HRD and was offered an internship. This opportunity at the Hyatt led to a 20-year career in HR. In June of 2016, I graduated with my second Master’s Degree. I am now the recipient of three college degrees: MA Human Resources, MA Instructional Design Technology, and BA Political Science. I am also studying for a Masters in Human Services.
My journey with Health and Wellness started on the Westside of Chicago. My grandmother raised my sister and I. I learned so much from my grandmother about being the best person that I can be. Unfortunately, my grandmother struggled with weight and suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes. Watching my grandmother struggle was a wakeup call for me. Although I have not been perfect, I have maintained good health by adopting the right behaviors. Some things that I do to maintain my health are: acupuncture, eating organically, and moderate exercise. My friends and family members often come to me for advice. I competed in my first athletic event when I climbed the John Hancock building in 2013, one of the tallest buildings in Chicago. Unfortunately, my grandmother passed away shortly before my climb.
After my grandmother passed away, I decided that I wanted to do something to help caregivers take better care of themselves. I decided to put my HR career on hold and leaped into Health Services as the Founder and CEO of Kare Visits. Being the Founder and CEO of Kare Visits has challenged me to learn more about Health and Wellness Programs. I knew that I needed help and searched for associations that offered education and support. I immediately reached out to WELCOA. I became a member of WELCOA in 2016, and now I am in the process of studying for my first certification. Kare Visits conducts well- being checks for the sick, elderly, and disabled. We work with family caregivers to check on their loved ones. I attend multiple events throughout the Chicagoland area to talk to corporate leaders about the importance of caregiver wellness programs. Statistics indicate that caregivers are the high-risk group for disease due to an increase in caregiver burnout. Many caregivers reported neglecting their health to care for others. There are more than 50 million caregivers in America. More than 60% of caregivers are employed. Our goal is to provide relief for caregivers that are juggling multiple priorities. We seek to give caregivers time back in their day to focus on taking care of themselves.
I have demonstrated a WELCOA Benchmark by choosing the appropriate interventions. I am currently a member of the Ceerias team, (Community Engagement for Early Recognition and Immediate Action in Stroke). This is a program that focuses on educating the African American community on the South Side of Chicago about the dangers of Stroke and how to recognize the signs and symptoms. I attend various events throughout the Chicagoland area to engage with the community. For example, this summer I was invited to speak at a funeral of a 40-year-old stroke victim. This was probably one of the most difficult speeches that I have ever given. More importantly, through the Ceerias project, I educate the public about preventative methods to include managing weight and stress. Through the Ceerias project, we have reached more than 20,000 Chicagoans in at risk communities. I am also a newly appointed board member of Mission Greenlight. Mission Greenlight is a non-profit organization that focuses on improving access to care for those in need. One of our goals at Mission Greenlight is to reduce isolation in nursing homes by visiting residents. I have discovered that I have a passion for caring for others. I finally know what I was put on this earth to do.
I plan to continue to increase the number of caregiver health and wellness programs globally. Being a member of WELCOA will help me ensure that Kare Visits’ caregiver health and wellness program evolve as the workplace dynamics continue to shift. I am looking forward to making an impact within the health care industry by ensuring that caregivers have access to the resources that they need and that patients have access to the care that they deserve. I am honored to be a member of the growing health and wellness community.