The Center Goes Virtual to Meet the Critical Needs of Seniors and Caregivers During the Pandemic

Updated: Jul 15

Recognized this month as the “Best Edina Nonprofit” by Edina Magazine, the Center provides programs and tools to educate and support the aging population and their families


EDINA, Minn. — July 10, 2020 — The Normandale Center for Healing and Wholeness, a nonprofit that serves up to 550 local seniors in transition and their caregivers in Edina and the surrounding communities, quickly moved its services online in mid-March to ensure community needs would be met during this critical time. Along with the fear of contracting COVID-19, long-term isolation for seniors and caregivers has become a crisis within the pandemic. Approximately 30% of Edina residents are seniors, including 3,800 between ages 75-84 and more than 2,000 over age 85, according to the World Population Review.


Caregiving needs increasing in Edina and statewide


“Founded in 1998 by Normandale Lutheran Church, in partnership with Fairview Health Services and other community providers, we are gratified that Normandale Center for Healing and Wholeness has become a trusted resource in the Twin Cities for older individuals, including those struggling with dementia,” said Jennifer Monroe, executive director of the Center. “Most people don’t know where to turn when they start the caregiving process and soon realize the Center not only provides valuable services, but also a vibrant community to tap into for advice and support.”


Many seniors with chronic conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetes, 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 who are 65 or older reported helping or being helped by a non-paid caregiver, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compiled by Minnesota Compass. Often times, informal caregiving becomes a full- or part-time job and an unexpected time, financial and emotional investment.


Supporting the community’s aging population


The Center is known for a comprehensive array of services including care consultations, caregiver support, visiting volunteer and respite services, health and wellness activities, workshops, public information sessions, and a medical equipment loan program. In response to Governor Walz’s executive order to stay home this spring, the Center transitioned all of its programs to virtual platforms. Individual social work support, caregiver support groups, education classes and workshops by trained experts are all accessible through the Zoom platform and weekly activity packets and telephone check-ins are available for seniors and caregivers.


Center programs are offered weekly and posted on its Facebook page. Upcoming monthly caregiver education topics include:

  • August 8 at 9 a.m. – Energy, Self-Efficacy, Strength: A Trifecta to Power Your Days by Heidi Weinberg, MA, ACE

  • September 12 at 9 a.m. – Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Research and Treatment by Robyn Birkeland, Ph.D.

  • October 1 at 6 p.m. – Six-week book club support group reading “Finding Hope When Dreams Have Shattered,” by Dr. Ted Bowman, culminating in a “live” Zoom author’s talk on November 14 at 9 a.m.

All online classes, drop-in support groups, information sessions and more are open to the general public.


In addition to staff-run programs, the Center is fueled by volunteers who are committed to making a difference in the lives of seniors and their families. To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Center, go to normandalecenter.org/volunteer.


Built-in community of advocates


As many as 80% of people find the nonprofit through word-of-mouth and referral. This was the case for two local residents, Fred Arndt who was seeking information about how to care for his ailing wife and Sandy Schley who was referred to the Center by a friend who had firsthand experience taking care of a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease.


“We have received positive feedback about our programs over the years and know it’s why families keep coming back to us. We are thrilled Edina Magazine is recognizing our work and dedication to the health and well-being of seniors and their families in our neighborhoods,” said Monroe.


Welcoming and accessible to all


The Center strives to make all services accessible and affordable to community members by asking only for a voluntary contribution, if possible. Every program offered through the Center is available on a sliding fee scale for those able to pay, but no one is denied services for an inability to contribute.


The nonprofit is financially supported through generous gifts from the Normandale Lutheran Church community, Older American Act funds via the Metropolitan Area Association on Aging, corporate contributions, grants and individual donations.


“The Center has been an integral partner in our ministry for more than twenty years,” said Paul Pettersen, lead pastor of Normandale Lutheran Church. “Together, we take heart in knowing that elders in our community, and their care providers, are nourished with love, faithfulness, and critical resourcing needed. We look forward to a long and bright future together.”


About Normandale Center for Healing and Wholeness

The Normandale Center for Healing and Wholeness (the Center) is a mission outreach program of Normandale Lutheran Church, which serves the entire community. 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 residing in Edina, Eden Prairie, Minneapolis, Bloomington, Richfield and the surrounding Southwest suburban metropolitan area. The Center is financially supported through generous gifts from the Normandale Lutheran Church community, corporate contributions, grants and individual donations. For more information, visit normandalecenter.org.

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