Minnesotans Get Help to Stay Well in Their Homes with Research-Based Online Classes

COVID-19 has brought the world to a sudden halt. Stores are closed, events are cancelled, and everyone is staying home. Juniper has embraced the challenges and developed an innovative way to offer health courses while following #StayHomeMN and social distancing rules.

Over the past year, Juniper providers, in partnership with the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging, have led more than 500 wellness classes in communities across Minnesota. In March, all community-based Juniper courses were cancelled due to COVID-19. These courses, once in person, are now moving online to offer Juniper’s nationally recognized and locally delivered classes in the safety of people’s homes. “We are excited to partner with providers from our region like A.C.E. of Southwest Minnesota, River’s Edge Hospital, and VINE Faith in Action to offer these classes online so we can continue serving the people of southwest Minnesota and statewide.” Said program developer Krista Eichhorst. The live, online courses are facilitated by trained and certified leaders and limited in class size to ensure sharing and interaction.

Juniper courses offer high-quality content that helps older adults live life fully and independently. People can choose from classes that focus on building strength and balance, preventing falls, or managing conditions that get in the way of feeling their best. The classes are beneficial for people coping with high blood pressure, heart disease, COPD, arthritis, diabetes, or other health conditions.

Past participants report eating healthier, increasing physical activity, working better with their healthcare professionals, and feeling better. People don’t have to do it alone. While Juniper courses help people improve their health, they are also a way for participants to connect with and support others as a community.

“The exercises I learned in this program carry over and make me more mindful in my movements at home.” – Class Participant

“The most valuable part of the class was meeting other people with similar conditions and sharing our lives and working together.” – Class Participant

Live on easy-to-use and HIPAA-secure video conferencing, participants engage in real-time with course leaders and fellow participants. Juniper classes help people overcome the challenges of self-isolating and take charge of their health. It’s easy for people to sign up for an online course that best fits their desired outcome:

  • Step 1: Go to yourjuniper.org to see course offerings or call 855-215-2174 to speak with a Juniper specialist.
  • Step 2: Register for your desired course. Participants will receive an email with a link to join the class.

About Juniper

Juniper is a statewide network rooted in individual communities. Area Agencies on Aging-six regional and one tribal entity-act as hubs for community organizations, healthcare organizations and class leaders. The network offers evidence-based health promotion classes to improve health and wellness across Minnesota. Juniper is a program of Innovations of Aging, a nonprofit subsidiary of Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging. Learn more at yourjuniper.org.

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MNRAAA Signs AARP Employer Pledge Recognizing the Value of Experienced Workers

Recommits to Hiring Across an Age Diverse Workforce

The Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging (MNRAAA) signed AARP’s employer pledge recognizing the value of experienced workers and recommitting to hiring across an age-diverse workforce. The AARP Employer Pledge Program encompasses a nationwide group of employers who know that the multigenerational workforce yields a strong pipeline of talent, protects business continuity and taps into new resources to address labor shortages.

Given employers’ need for talent, it makes great business sense to hire experienced workers, as demonstrated by AARP research.

MNRAAA Executive Direction Jason W. Swanson said, “Having a multigenerational workforce adds significant value to what we do and can give us an edge over competitors. Different work and life experiences from employees help make us a better, stronger organization.”

AARP Vice President for Financial Resilience Susan Weinstock said, “We’re thrilled that MNRAAA has signed AARP’s employer pledge. We know that employees and employers succeed when they remain committed in words and in action to hiring and maintaining an age-diverse workforce.”

AARP’s employer pledge reads, “We believe in equal opportunity for all workers, regardless of age, and that 50+ workers should have a level playing field in their ability to compete for and obtain jobs. Recognizing the value of experienced workers, we pledge to recruit across diverse age groups and to consider all applicants on an equal basis as we hire for positions within our organization.”

AARP’s Job Board and other employer resources connect 50+ job seekers with employers like MNRAAA and hundreds of other employers who recognize the value of experience.

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Meal Delivery During the Pandemic

As we continue through the COVID-19 pandemic, we realize that this is not going to be a short sprint but rather a marathon. Like any skilled marathoner will tell you, it is not about speed or a fast start, but rather, pacing is key.

At the onset of the stay-at-home order in Minnesota, we found that many older adults were doing well, as they had prepared for this eventuality of sheltering in place like other states. The story has changed after entering the second month of the stay-at-home order. Personal stockpiles are now running low, freezer space is becoming abundant and folks are beginning to make return calls to home-delivered meal providers.

I want to assure everyone that the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging (MNRAAA) has prepared for this to occur, and we have been working with home-delivered meal providers in Southwest Minnesota. In our frequent meetings, we discuss how current meal production and delivery are going and look to the future to find areas of improvement. (A previously identified need was fulfilled by the wonderful transit providers in our area who stepped up to assist with meal deliveries.)

The home-delivered meal providers who MNRAAA works with under the Older Americans Act, Prairie 5 and Lutheran Social Services, have been reporting an average increase of 35% in meals over the past month and they are ready to provide more! In 2019, roughly 390,000 meals were provided to older adults throughout Southwest Minnesota. The first-quarter numbers for 2020 show a slight increase, and preliminary numbers for April indicate a further growth that we expect to continue into May and June. As mentioned earlier, this growth is something that we have been preparing for and are ready to assist with as needed. MNRAAA will be here to serve our family, friends and neighbors to the finish line and beyond.

If you or someone you know may benefit from home-delivered meals, please contact the Senior LinkAge Line® at 1-800-333-2433 to find a home-delivered meal provider in your area.

Jason W. Swanson, HSE
Executive Director


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MNRAAA Receives Grant from Minnesota Council on Foundations

Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging, Inc. (MNRAAA) received $100,000 from the Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) to assist organizations serving older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.  “We are excited to focus this grant in our communities to assist our families, friends and neighbors, with nutrition-related services,  Stipends for volunteers, culturally specific staff costs and loaner technology and technology or other related services,” said Jason W. Swanson, MNRAAA Executive Director.

“As we work to mobilize the philanthropic community in Minnesota to meet the immense needs growing out of the pandemic, we seek to deliver a high impact, coordinated response. We recognize and support the many other efforts underway to help during this challenging time and will do our best to coordinate with them to provide the most strategic response,” said Susie Brown, MCF President. “In times of need, the generosity of Minnesotans can be counted on to support community-led solutions for those who are vulnerable and at-risk in our state,” said Eric J. Jolly, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Foundation. “As Minnesotans face risks associated with the coronavirus, that generosity will again be deployed through the Minnesota Disaster Recovery Fund. We are proud to play a contributing role with the MCF in the fund and in continuing Minnesota’s legacy of giving, especially during this challenging time.”

MNRAAA is currently developing the grant applications and will post information regarding the grant on our website at www.mnraaa.org.  If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at 507-387-1256.

The MCF exists to collectively advance prosperity and equity in the state of Minnesota. MCF currently connects, mobilizes and strengthens over 140 philanthropic partners within the sector, serving grantmaking organizations for 50 years. Members of MCF include family and independent foundations, community and other public foundations, corporate foundations and giving programs. Learn more at www.mcf.org. #WeAreMCF

About the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging
As the designated area agency on aging for 27 counties in southwest Minnesota, the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging is a catalyst in building communities where older adults live with dignity, mutual respect and shared responsibilities across generations and cultures. To learn more about MNRAAA, visit www.mnraaa.org.

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