Older Americans comprise an especially vulnerable group after hospitalization. The millions of older adults who transition from post-acute care to their homes annually are dependent on caregivers for three to six activities of daily living once they return home. Yet in their efforts to get and stay well, too many patients and their caregivers don’t fully understand the extent of the patient’s needs in the critical time following acute care. The good news is a clear opportunity exists to view the challenge of transitional care and recuperating seniors’ needs through a new lens.
On August 14, Tivity Health recognized our efforts to enhance the health and well-being of seniors living in rural America through our Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative, which has improved the lives of at least 1,550 vulnerable seniors in more than 70 communities across Minnesota and North Dakota, with communities in Montana recently added to our expanded efforts. Game-changing approaches will continue to be needed to help improve quality of life for rural seniors.
As a service provider, it can be easy to get lost in the everyday challenges of day-to-day operations, focusing on funding, staffing, reports and service delivery. Coming together with colleagues at events like LSA-DN gives us a chance to step back, to think about larger strategic issues, to focus on the need for public policy and advocacy, and to learn innovative new models and approaches.
Lutheran Services in America has long focused on supporting the healthy, independent aging of America’s elderly, particularly those struggling with limited resources in rural, isolated settings. The organization – in tandem with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota – in 2015 launched the three-year Phase I of its ongoing Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative. The Collaborative provides a sound example of what can be achieved when effectively using a collaborative learning model.
Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota has developed a deep understanding of the needs of senior citizens. LSSND created as part of Lutheran Services in America’s “Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative” a Volunteer Companions program, established to serve isolated and lonely seniors, and building in flexibility for younger adults to volunteer.