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The Center and Rural Faith-Based Partners Receive Grant Award

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

The Normandale Center for Healing and Wholeness, along with several rural partners has received a grant to collect information on healthy aging for seniors living in a rural environment. Read the full press release below.


Healthy Aging on the Farm


New rural collaborative partnership receives $10,000 grant award from the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center and the U of M Center for Aging and Innovation to lead Healthy Aging on the Farm Project.


The Normandale Center for Healing and Wholeness is partnering with several rural faith-based partners to collect information on barriers to healthy aging for seniors among Western Goodhue county farmers over the age of 60. Community organizations on the project team currently include United Church of Christ Zumbrota, Habitat for Humanity of Goodhue county and United Redeemer Lutheran Church (Zumbrota).


Zumbrota, Minn. — November 24, 2020 —A University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center report (2018) found that workers in the rural areas don’t have the same access to supportive services and face shortages in the formal long-term care options, pushing the burden of care to unpaid (family) caregivers. These caregivers, often older themselves, require self-care strategies, social supports and resources in order to maintain their own health. Yet, isolation, stigma, and time challenge access in rural areas, leaving caregivers who may need help most at the greatest risk of not receiving it.


Agricultural workforce: According to the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH), agriculture workers are comprised of more “older workers” than any other profession or industry. Today, the average age of farmers in Minnesota is approaching 60. Statewide population trends reflect that the number of adults in their 60’s in Minnesota will double by 2030 and those over 85 will grow by 61%, While Minnesota is aging rapidly, rural areas are aging at an even faster rate. Concerns about access to medical care, the future of the farm, the finances needed to support healthy living and aging, and access to caregiver supports when looking towards the future are widespread. “We feel that an opportunity exists for rural faith communities in Goodhue county to support aging farmers” said J D Haas, Pastor of United Church of Christ Zumbrota (UCC Zumbrota) and co-lead of the project.


Caregiver burden at an all-time high: Data reflect that most seniors desire to age in place and that unpaid, informal caregivers (family) provide the vast majority of all long-term care in Minnesota. Many seniors are able to maintain their independence and a healthy lifestyle, however greater caregiving needs can quickly become necessary if physical or cognitive health declines in older individuals and loved ones are turned to for support and guidance. In Minnesota, family and friends provide the majority of help to older adults who need assistance. Last year, 74% of residents in Minnesota 65 or older reported helping or being helped by a non-paid caregiver. “Often times, informal caregiving becomes a full- or part-time job and an unexpected investment of time, finances and emotions” said Jennifer Monroe, the Executive Director of the Normandale Center for Healing and Wholeness (the Center).


Identifying needs: "We are excited about this project because we can help our farmers and we can learn from them the challenges that they face and the best way for them to stay as they age on their farms" said Haas. “It can be difficult reaching older adults and forming community partnerships in rural settings during Covid-19 for a variety of reason including access, trust and distance” said Monroe. “This project proposes to lead the development of a coalition of faith-based entities, adding partners from other sectors, to collect information about barriers to healthy aging from individuals over 60 in the farming community”. The Center will be co-partner with UCC Zumbrota on this 1-year project. Community Leadership Team members in Goodhue County currently include the Habitat for Humanity of Goodhue County, and United Redeemer Lutheran Church of Zumbrota


Expected outcomes: 1. Identify barriers to healthy aging through a series of interviews and focus groups; 2. Identify best practices to communicate opportunities and information to farm communities; 3. Test virtual delivery of services and 4. Synthesize and share findings on improving the quality of life of aging farmers with the community at large.


Normandale Center for Healing and Wholeness

The Normandale Center for Healing and Wholeness (the Center) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with the mission to “walk with” seniors, their family members, friends and caregivers, to provide support for healthy aging in body, mind and spirit”. Founded in 1998, the Center serves over 550 seniors and family members annually. The Center provides healthy aging, wellness, volunteer and caregiver social work and other supportive services to individuals over 60. For more information, visit normandalecenter.org or contact the Executive Director, Jennifer Monroe at 952-977-9373 or via email at jmonroe@normandalecenter.org.

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