LSA Blog

Serving Seniors in Rural Areas – and Beyond

Blog Date: 
Monday, May 23, 2016
by Charlotte Haberaecker, President & CEO, Lutheran Services in America

In honor of Older Americans month, I wanted to share some little-known facts about Lutheran social ministry and the many ways in which the lives of older adults in the United States are touched by social ministry organizations.

Did you know that Lutherans are the largest faith-based group serving seniors today?

We have an incredible history and tradition of caring for seniors in our communities. Two-thirds of the 300 members of the Lutheran Services in America network provide services to seniors. These services range from in-home care to meal programs, retirement housing, rehabilitation, respite care and senior centers. Approximately 20% of the senior residential living units among the top 100 non-profit senior providers in the U.S. are members of LSA.

How we walk alongside our older neighbors
Lutheran social ministry helps seniors live a higher quality, more abundant life through a range of services including:

  • Home and Community based services such as meals, transportation, wellness and senior centers, caregiver support and hospice care
  • Residential Services including affordable housing, assisted living, memory centers and nursing homes
  • Healthcare Services including rehabilitation and home health services
  • Chaplain Services including spiritual care for people of all faiths. 
  • Financial Support so that disadvantaged, low-income seniors can continue to live in their communities

Our Senior Services "Community of Practice" is a group of LSA members working together to develop innovative ways to help seniors stay healthy and living at home while minimizing their time in hospitals. They have come together to reinvent how seniors, particularly vulnerable and low-income seniors, receive services they need that allow them to age in place and lead abundant lives.

Another way we are working together as a network is through the Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative. This three-year project is designed to increase services and improve conditions for seniors aging in rural areas, where people often have fewer family supports.

Current trends show more older adults will be living in rural communities than ever before, and yet services in these areas vary significantly and are frequently inadequate. This initiative takes a holistic, ‘whole person’ approach, taking health, nutrition, transportation and companionship needs into account. The Collaborative also emphasizes working with family members and caregivers to coordinate all the services, in order to be better able to help seniors stay in their homes longer.

We are piloting the program in Minnesota and North Dakota with the goal of developing a model for rural communities that can be adapted and repeated in other Midwestern states, and beyond.  We’re honored to work with our members to collectively address unmet needs facing seniors in rural communities. By looking at the needs of the whole person, and the unique strengths and challenges in rural communities, we are able to build an approach that can be used in other areas, to help us expand our services and reach more seniors to help them remain in their homes.

Our Lutheran legacy of caring for our neighbors reaches back more than 150 years, and our shared values guide us in our commitment to compassionate care – where people live with abundance, independence, respect and dignity, throughout their lives.

To learn more, please visit http://www.lutheranservices.org/seniorservices

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 The LSA network represents more than 300 members, all health and human services organizations, with a footprint in all 50 states and parts of the Caribbean. We are one of the largest such networks in the U.S., and our members provide a broad range of critical services from health care to children and family services, senior services, disaster relief, refugee services, disability support, housing, employment support, and more.

Collectively, LSA members serve 1 in 50 people each year in thousands of communities across the United States. To support this important work, please visit www.lutheranservices.org/donate

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