Only The Best From LSS

Jerry Ostlund, left, is an LSS Senior Companion, and Ron Urbanski, right, is the assistant director for the LSS Senior Companion Program. Photo by Suzanne Shaff Photography

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota provides seniors compassion, care, and companionship.

With a team of 2,300 employees and 8,000 volunteers, it’s no wonder Lutheran Social Service (LSS) of Minnesota is able to provide care for seniors in all 87 counties of the state. As a statewide social service organization that supports one in 65 Minnesotans through services that inspire hope, change lives and build community, LSS seeks to foster safe and supportive homes for children, restore health and wellness in families, empower people with disabilities to live the lives they imagine, and promote health, independence, and quality of life for older adults.

LSS has 23 lines of service for children, adults, families, seniors, and folks with disabilities. Among these is the Senior Corps, a network of national service programs for Americans 55 years and older that improves people’s lives and fosters community engagement. LSS sponsors two of these services in Minnesota.

“Our Senior Companion Program matches volunteers 55 and older with older adults who provide weekly visits. They offer companionship, help at home and provide rides to run errands, like going to the doctor or grocery shopping. The LSS Foster Grandparent Program matches volunteers 55 and older with children who need support at school. They provide them with a caring presence and academic support,” says Jacqueline Nelson, senior manager of marketing and communications for LSS.

LSS’ older adult services also offer nutrition support though LSS Meals, including LSS Meals on Wheels, LSS Bistro community dining sites, and other meal services. They also provide caregiver and companion services, cooking classes for older adults in several communities, guardianship options, and a pooled trust to ease the lives of Minnesota seniors.

Though Nelson says LSS is uncertain of the presence of the GLBT community in their clientele, she says they work to serve all Minnesotans.

“What we do know is that we serve all Minnesotans and have a philosophy of delivering our services with respect and compassion. We do offer a service in northern Minnesota called ‘Together for Youth’ that is specifically dedicated to providing an inclusive, supportive, and welcoming group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, two spirit, and allied youth in Duluth and Virginia, Minnesota. In our Together for Youth groups, youth can connect with their peers, find resources, explore issues and navigate challenges,” she says.

Of all of the community programs of LSS, Nelson says a large percentage are seniors who partake in LSS’ older adult care programs. Between 2010 and 2030, the number of adults 65 years and older is expected to nearly double, and Nelson says helping individuals and families navigate the last third of life for loved ones will require more support from Minnesota neighbors. Services like the Senior Companion Program will be more important than ever and depend on community volunteers.

“We’re also looking at ways to meet the changing needs of our older adult population. Currently, we’re working with a few hospital providers to connect companions with older adults who are being discharged from the hospital to help them get back on their feet and avoid being readmitted to the hospital,” Nelson says. “We are continually innovating to find new solutions to meet the growing needs of older adults.”

Nelson says one of the may goals of LSS is to help older adults maintain their independence and live in their homes or settings of their choice for as long as they possibly can.

For more information about LSS’ services for seniors, visit www.lssmn.org.

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