2019 Annual Report: Over 23,330 Older Adults and Caregivers Supported in 2019

In 2019, MNRAAA supported over 23,330 older adults and caregivers. The numbers below represent older adults and caregivers in the Southwest Planning and Service Area. Consumers may be counted more than once if they participated in more than one service.

  • 13,059 consumers served via the Senior LinkAge Line®
  • 5,571 older adults received 215,144 congregate meals
  • 2,091 older adults received 174,391 home-delivered meals
  • 284 older adults received 1,377 hours of legal assistance
  • 64 caregivers received 2,187 hours of respite care
  • 317 caregivers participated in 3,926 sessions of caregiver support services
  • 1,491 older adults participated in evidence-based health promotion programs
  • 112 older adults received 1,724 hours of chore and homemaker services
  • 270 older adults received 7,319 one-way transportation & assisted transportation rides
  • 71 elders from diverse cultures received 3,988 hours of individual special access services
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2019 Annual Report: Supporting Caregivers — Interfaith Caregivers and Wellspring Faith in Action

In November 2000, Congress reauthorized the Older Americans Act and created Title III-E, the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP). This Title was designed to help family and informal caregivers care for older adults in their homes for as long as possible. By creating the NFCSP, Congress explicitly recognized the important role that family caregivers occupy in our nation’s long-term services and supports system.

In 2003 when the NFCSP regulations were in place, and funds became available, the Region Nine Area Agency on Aging (one of the predecessors to MNRAAA) awarded its first Title III-E grant awards. Among the initial recipients were two Faith-in-Action programs, Interfaith Caregivers and Wellspring, serving Faribault and Watonwan Counties respectively. Seventeen years later, both programs continue to support caregivers through Title III-E grant awards from MNRAAA.

Over the years, these programs have provided respite care, caregiver coaching/consulting, support groups and education and training specifically designed to achieve reduced caregiver burden; increased caregiver skill competency and confidence; extended time care can be provided at home; and increased caregiver access to support services. While maintaining their commitment to these basic goals, Interfaith Caregivers and Wellspring have adapted their caregiver services to address changes in demographics and the introduction of new and innovative models of support.

Interfaith Caregivers has implemented a Friendship Café (a safe and comfortable space where caregivers and their loved ones living with memory loss can socialize, receive support and enjoy the company of those with similar things in common) and is placing a greater emphasis on outreach to working caregivers. Wellspring is responding to the needs of Hispanic caregivers in Watonwan County by implementing a Spanish-language support and education group through a partnership with Our Golden Age meetings.

Both Interfaith Caregivers and Wellspring have been successful in their provision of services to support caregivers. Caregivers who responded to satisfaction surveys indicated the services met or exceeded their expectations, helped them to cope better, increased their skills or ability to provide care, and helped them to provide care longer. Survey comments indicated that the caregiver services are very much appreciated and are very valuable to the community. An on-going challenge for both programs is how to engage caregivers earlier. Kim Askeland, Wellspring program coordinator, summarized this challenge best, “Caregiving is a long journey most of us will take at some point in our lives. We don’t need to take this journey alone.” She continued by saying, “There are many resources available to caregivers; they just need to be willing to reach out for and accept help.”

To learn more about caregiver services:

  • In Faribault County, contact Interfaith Caregivers at info@interfaithcaregivers.net or 507-526-4684.
  • In Watonwan County, contact wellspringfia@co.watonwan.mn.us or 507-375-1276.

For people in all other counties in Southwestern Minnesota, or if your organization is interested in providing caregiver services or applying for a grant award, contact Rhonda Hiller Fjeldberg at rfjeldberg@mnraaa.org or 507-387-1256 x. 105.

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2019 Annual Report: Communities for a Lifetime

MNRAAA received an Age-Friendly Communities grant from the Southwest Initiative Foundation to work with four communities during their 2019 – 2020 grant round. A previous Southwest Initiative Foundation grant allowed us to work with two communities, Kerkhoven and Porter, in 2018. Each community is awarded a grant of up to $10,000 to complete a project to aide their community in becoming more age-friendly.

In 2019, the communities of Milan, DeGraff and Adrian agreed to undertake the process of becoming a Community for a Lifetime. The fourth community determined the timing was not right for them, so in early 2020, a meeting will be held with Tyler to determine whether they would like to become the fourth community in this grant round.

The first step in the Communities for a Lifetime process is to develop a Community Leadership Team. The Team determines the definition of their community, i.e., only within city limits or within a one-mile radius of city limits, etc. The Team then assists in distributing the Age-Friendly Community Survey document to their defined community. The survey results help to identify the community’s strengths and gaps.

Once the survey results are collated, the Community Leadership Team reviews the results to identify a gap that can be addressed with the $10,000 grant award. At the time of this writing, the DeGraff survey results have been reviewed by their Community Leadership Team. The Adrian and Milan surveys have been sent; results will be collated and reviewed in January 2020.

As an example, in DeGraff the survey identified a need for more community-wide information about transportation and nutrition services available through Prairie Five Community Action Council (CAC). This need can be met by partnering with Prairie Five CAC without using grant funds. The DeGraff Community Leadership Team met to discuss the gaps that can be closed with the grant funds; they are planning to make a final decision in January.

To some, $10,000 may not seem like very much money to complete a community-wide project, to the smallest communities in our area the process and the grant funding are invaluable. It is truly a gift to be able to assist communities in this way.

To learn how your community could become a Community for a Lifetime, call MNRAAA at 507-387-1256.

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2019 Annual Report: Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act

In 1965, as part of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, legislation was signed called the Older Americans Act (OAA), which is the foundation for America’s Aging Network. This piece of legislation came in response to public outcry for a range of in-home, community-based and institutional health care which arose from the first White House Conference on Aging.

The OAA has been amended numerous times throughout the years and was last amended and reauthorized in 2016. The reauthorization for the program ran out on September 30, 2019. However, a handful of continuing resolutions allowed the program to continue. This past year, MNRAAA Board of Directors, staff and providers sent numerous letters to our congressional delegation and took part in a town hall meeting with Senator Tina Smith in Willmar on April 5, 2019 to discuss with local providers the importance of the OAA.

The House of Representatives passed Reauthorization (H.R. 4334 Dignity in Aging) and the United States Senate introduced the Modernization of the Older Americans Act Amendment (MOAA). The next steps, at the time of this writing, is for the Senate to pass a bill and then to create a conference committee between the House and Senate to combine the two bills. These bills include many items that we have advocated for, including an increase in funding (the funding for OAA is 1/3 of 1% of the total national discretionary spending), language which allows area agencies on aging to look at opportunities through non-OAA funding streams and increased support for Alzheimer’s and Caregiver research.

Funding for OAA-funded programs and services is essential to the health and independence of millions of older adults and caregivers, including the 80,000 plus older adults and caregivers that MNRAAA serves in our twenty-seven county area. The number of Minnesotans turning 65 in this decade (about 285,000) will be higher than the past four decades combined.

Around 2020, Minnesota’s 65+ population is expected to eclipse the population of children aged 5-17 for the first time in history. The total number of older adults (65+) is anticipated to double between 2010 and 2030, according to our projections. By then, more than 1 in 5 Minnesotans will be an older adult, including all the Baby Boomers.

These OAA-funded programs and services are funded through the U.S. Administration on Aging and delivered locally by MNRAAA and our network of community providers.

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