Worried about aging parents? Minnesota has help for seniors and caregivers

Worried about aging parents? Minnesota has help for seniors and caregivers Photo: KSTP

Updated: July 01, 2019 05:33 AM

Are you worried about your aging parents? Well, the state of Minnesota is too.

We are riding an age wave, and the Department of Human Services has the year 2030 circled on the calendar. That's when more than 21% of Minnesota's population will be 65 and older. 


The state is working to save taxpayers money and keep seniors happy and healthy at home.

Harold Krein is 89 years young; he plays the accordion and loves to dance. The U.S. Army veteran lives by himself in Bloomington. He has concerns about living at home; especially falling.

"I think about it yeah," said Krein. "Now I got trouble with my knee and a little bit on the hip. I don't have any children, so I don't have anyone around to take care of me."

"My concern with Harold is that he lives alone," said Debbie Lieberman, Loaves & Fishes director of advocacy. "He could easily have a fall and who does he call?"

Lieberman met Krein when he came in for a free meal at the Loaves & Fishes dining site at the Creekside Community Center in Bloomington.  More than half of the guests that visit Loaves & Fishes are seniors. 
Lieberman was hired thanks to a Live Well at Home Grant from the State of Minnesota. She visits all 31 dining sites on a regular basis. Lieberman has researched what's available locally to help seniors stay in their homes.

"I can provide referrals to any community programs or services," said Lieberman. "What I do that they don't really realize is I've been trained by the state to apply a rapid screening; a Live Well rapid screen. It's seven questions."

"There are services to help them around the house, help them with their personal care. Maybe give them a ride to the doctor," said Kari Benson, director of the Aging and Adult Services Division at Department of Human Services. Benson also serves as executive director of the Minnesota Board on Aging.

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What's the story with older people in Minnesota right now?

"Well, they are growing in number," said Benson. "Many communities around the state already have more older people than students in K-12 education."

In 2019, the Department of Human Services awarded $8.6 million in Live Well at Home Grants to organizations that help Minnesotans 65 and older stay at home. 

"What we do through the grants is provide funding support to agencies around the state to provide those types of services to older adults" said Benson. "And they play the very critical role of helping older adults stay at home." 

According to Benson, the Live Well at Home Grants are a good investment for taxpayers.

"Delivering services to an older person in their home, supporting their family and friends who are caregiving, on average costs less than if we were to pay for that same person to live in a nursing home or assisted living or maybe live in foster care and receive those same types of services," Benson said

"The more we can help seniors continue to live independent, healthy lives in their communities where they are right now, the cheaper it is for the state" said Lieberman. "Because if something happens to them and they are put into an institution; many of them can't afford any kind of care, so again the state is paying for that."

Lieberman gave Harold Krein phone numbers for apartments that are safer and are cheaper to rent. Right now, he doesn't want to move into a nursing home.  

"Well I guess I'll make that decision; cross the bridge when I get there, and I'm not there yet,"Krein said. "I still feel more like I'm 50." 

"They're doing amazing things in their 80's and 90's" said Lieberman. "Maybe they've lost everything and they're living in a small apartment. Maybe they can't afford to buy food, but they're still active."

Active indeed. Krein plans to continue playing his accordion and live independently for years, thanks to a little help from the State of Minnesota.

To find out about free or low cost services for Minnesota seniors and adult children who are caregivers, call the Senior Linkage Line at 1-800-333-2433.

You should also check out and click on "Guided Search for Senior Services" on the menu at the bottom.

Here's how organizations can apply for Live Well at Home Grants.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services Aging 2030: Preparing Minnesota for the age wave report has a lot of interesting information about how our state's population is changing and what's being done to help older Minnesotans.  

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Kevin Doran

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