Compass: Rural Retirees: Aging in Rural Society


– [Narrator] The following
program is a production of Pioneer Public Television. (clarinet music) – [Narrator] Major support
for Compass is provided by the ongoing support of
the Leo P. Flynn Estate of Milbank, South Dakota. Additional support is
provided by the Southwest Minnesota Private
Industry Council, promoting southwest
Minnesota as a place rich with opportunity. Come for the jobs,
stay for the lifestyle. More information at SWMNPIC.org. (gentle piano music) – Hello and welcome to Compass, a production of Pioneer
Public Television. I’m Les Heen, your
host for Compass. This is a weekly
discussion of public policy and important issues
facing our viewing area. This week, we will
talk about how rural societies are aging, and what concerns communities are faced with when
dealing with aging. We’ll have representatives
from the Minnesota River Area Agency on
Aging, as well as the Chippewa County
Montevideo Hospital. We’ll touch on what
services and programs are available at a community
and individual level to improve the quality of
life for older citizens. First, Pioneer’s Laura
Kay Prosser takes us to a Matter of Balance workshop. It’s one of the many
evidence based programs that the local
Living at Home Block and Nurse Program group has
started to offer to citizens. Here’s Laura’s report. – For rural retirees
it’s not always easy to get out and be active. However, in Granite Falls,
thanks to the Living at Home Block Nurse Program,
a nonprofit network that exists in 33
communities across the state, gap services are
finally being filled in where others have fallen short. It’s simply a matter of
fact, or if you ask Mary Ims, program director, it’s
a Matter of Balance and programs like
the Matter of Balance to get seniors living right. Mary, welcome. – Thank you. – So Mary, tell me a
little bit about the Living at Home
Block Nurse Program. – The program has been in
existence for 15 years, and it started with the
need of elderly people and the disabled that needed
assistance in transportation, in home help, and it expanded to friendly visits
and respite care which is a big need here, and as it grew there became
more people interested in the program. Professional people, like
the hospital and the clinic. We provide rides to the
clinic and the hospital for physical therapy and just
doctor visits and whatever and then we added the
evidence based programs. The chronic illness, which
more than 84% of people aged 65 are coping with at
least one chronic condition. – Oh wow.
– So we offer that evidence based program. Then we offer the Matter
of Balance program. – Well and with the gap
services you provide and the programs like
Matter of Balance, why is it so important to offer these type of things
in rural areas? – Well we want to
keep the people as healthy as possible
to enjoy their life. – Where else are they gonna go? – There is nowhere else
that these are offered other than a distance, where that’s impossible
for most of them. – So walk me through the
Matter of Balance class. Tell me a little bit about that. – The evidence based
program, which it is, basically highlights
the fall prevention. It is very detrimental to people because even at my age, we lose our balance. And it’s so important
to stay active and these exercises
which are not strenuous, have proven very valuable. – And what do they do
in a class like this? – Well we do the
exercises, and we also have a manual that we
go by to give them tips on how to be aware of
their surroundings. – So how is the
evidence based class, the Matter of Balance, a
class that is kind of epitome for the Living at Home
Block Nurse Program? – Well, I would
say that all three evidence based
programs that we offer are very important
to our program. The other one I
didn’t mention was Powerful Tools for Caregivers, and that’s another whole subject where the caregivers
are really needing help because of the care they
give their partners. So we offer a support
group every month for those people,
and Powerful Tools for Caregivers is
another evidence based
class we offer them and other caregivers
to help cope with their caregiving
experiences. – So it’s Matter of Balance,
the caregiver’s class, and what was the third one? – [Mary] Chronic
Illness Self-management. And there again we have our
flyers down at the clinic. – So we just got done
talking to Mary Ims of the Home Block Nurse Program about the Matter of Balance
program they have going on. Now, Matter of Balance
is also a program that Mike Brown works on as
a physical therapy assistant. Correct Mike? – Correct. – Tell me a little bit about your involvement
in this program. – I got called in from
the Block Nursing Program to just talk about falls
and fall prevention, so that’s where I got called in from a physical
therapy standpoint. – Now why is that
such a key aspect to talk about for
senior citizens? – You know it’s a real
epidemic right now. I think falls are
the number two reason to visit a doctor
for the elderly, and so we needed to do
something preventative. We didn’t want to keep
picking up the pieces if you will, after someone fell so we decided to tackle
it from a preventative way and the Block Nursing
Program approached me with the Matter of Balance, and it sounded like
a really good program so we decided to get involved
from a local standpoint and it’s been a really
good involvement. – So what are some key
points about balance that you try to press? – We try to keep people focused on their environment
around them, what kind of things
could cause them to fall. We also tell them to keep
in good health, good shape, do some exercises, stay
as healthy as they can and to be aware of what
medications and stuff they’re taking to make sure that that’s not affecting
their balance. We work in a small
town hospital, so a lot of the
people we’ve seen in the program have been
former patients of mine. Those patients often
times come back because they’ve fallen at home. Since the program has started, and we’ve had more involvement, more preventative
type things going on, we’re seeing less
and less of those familiar faces coming
back which we really like. – So what kind of impact have you seen working
with these people? What have you heard, why
do people keep coming back? – And I think it’s the
knowledge they’re gaining so that they can prevent
falls themselves. The elderly, if
you’ve fallen one time you become very fearful
of falling a second time, and those people can
become quite reclusive. By coming to these
programs and getting even out of their house
to come to the program it’s a big step
forward sometimes, so if we get that
initial contact with them we can teach them some skills
that they can carry on with and that’s made a big impact
in the community itself. – And maybe that’s why the
Matter of Balance program is so important. They take a couple
classes and they can bring it back into their homes
for the rest of the time. – Yeah absolutely. The information I
give and the things that are brought up through
the Matter of Balance are all things that
can be taken home and put into use there. I think that’s a real
important part of the program. – That’s it from Granite Falls. I’m Laura Kay Prosser,
producer of Compass. Back to Les in the studio. (gentle piano music) – With us now to talk
about regional efforts to improve the lives of
aging folks in rural areas, we have two folks with us
today for that conversation. We have from the Minnesota
River Area Agency on Aging and she’s from Mankato, we
have Kim Madsen, thanks Kim. – Thank you. – And we also have
Lori Peterson who’s with the Chippewa County
Montevideo Hospital. Thanks both for coming in. – Thank you.
– Thank you. – So we want to talk today
about some challenges and some problems and
also some solutions, but let’s start with some
of the challenges first. So what are some of
the biggest challenges right now that either one of you are seeing with aging
populations in Minnesota? And Kim I’d like to start
with you if we could. What are some of the challenges? – Yeah so at the Minnesota
River area agency in aging we cover the southwest
27 counties of the state. There are other area
agencies on aging across the rest of the
state, but in rural what we’re seeing is housing, affordable
housing, senior housing, so we’re looking at
having the correct width of doorways, no stairs. You know the one level living that really is more convenient and not having the
massive houses, and you’ll see that
many times over and over if you would go and
search out YouTube, or other videos that
are dealing with information on housing
is that we have built our communities really with
three, four bedroom ramblers and as we’re having
the aging population, no longer do we need a three
or four bedroom rambler. But people wanting to maintain
and stay in their homes, so really a housing,
affordable healthcare, access to healthcare,
limited services and this falls in
the transportation is really is once
I no longer decide or feel that I can
drive any longer, and if I’m in a small community and just for example
of 400 people is that there might not be
a daily bus route, you know? In Willmar we have that daily
community transit that goes, but if you’re in Morton,
Minnesota you don’t have that. – Lori in your
work in Montevideo there’s the same
kinds of challenges that you’ve seen with it? – You know, in my work I work as a memory care
coordinator and so we know that there are people living at home with
dementia or memory loss and even trying to
get them connected to resources so
that they can stay in their homes and
make things work for a longer period of
time is so very important, and so there’s a
lot of challenges but we just need
to help reach out and help connect people
to those resources. – When you talk about
resources and services, that leads to the question
about you know services that people may need
to have access to, but they don’t
necessarily even know the services are available. Are there some
examples of things that can really help folks as
they go through those issues? – We have a memory care
clinic in Montevideo, and so people can
come and have their cognitive or their memories
or their thinking skills evaluated, and then once
that process is over my position is to help
people with memory loss make those connections. There are a lot of
resources available, and when a person
receives a diagnosis if they’re just
sent out the door, often times they have
no idea where to start, and so I can help
put those pieces of the puzzle together for them. We have things like
in home respite where a person can
come in and provide some respite for the caregiver. We have a respite
program in Montevideo that a lot of people are
not taking advantage of where a person with
dementia can come for four hours and the
caregiver gets relief, but there are a lot
of programs through the Alzheimer’s Association and we just need to
connect and educate people. – And I’m sure Kim that
over, in the entire region you deal with
you probably see this sort of story repeated
over and over again right? – It is, and it’s on
multi-faceted levels. So here we’re talking
about dementia, but you can really
talk about as we age, we really become a society
becoming fearful of aging, and that shouldn’t be. And as we look, you know I work in Graceville,
Ortonville, across these existing counties right
here, and my staff work the other areas, but
we’re as program developers really out trying to
work with hospitals, clinics, agencies, to
institute and implement programs such as
Matter of Balance, Powerful Tools for
Caregivers, caregivers are of utmost importance
when we’re talking about rural Minnesota, and really
helping any community figure out do a community assessment. Figure out what programs
could be most helpful for the aging population
within your community because if there
aren’t those programs, people are going to move. And if this has been my home
and I raised my family here, I would love to stay in my home but if I can’t, then what are
my other options for housing? What are the programs
that will help me stay here in this community and with the people who are my friends? – We don’t want to lose people. You know often times if like we, we grew up in a
very small community and so there aren’t all
the housing options. So once, if a person cannot
live in their home anymore, or or maybe we should
even back that up. Maybe they just
need some services to come into the
home to assist them, to stay in their homes longer. And there are those
resources available. But if it gets past that level and people need an
assisted living, or need that little next step, often times some of
our rural communities don’t have that to offer. And if that’s the case,
and then they have to move to a larger
community, we lose them. Because once they leave
our small community, they’re no longer a
part of that community. – And some of those
challenges I suppose, Lori, are as simple as
a grocery store, being able to walk to a
grocery store if it’s there. Inability perhaps to drive
anymore a few blocks, so I mean some of these
things if you look at ’em may be relatively simple for
other people to help solve. – Exactly, and this
is one of the things Lori and I were
discussing just earlier is how we really need
communities to start to rally and support
their neighbor. And so, because if I no longer can go to the community center for my meal because
I don’t drive, or if I need to stay in my
home for safety reasons, how can we get organizations
and individuals to start volunteering,
taking say my company’s going to take January
and we’re going to deliver those
five meals every day. We really need to figure out how as a society we can rally to support our growing
population of elders because if we don’t, it’s hard
to sustain those programs. And that’s what it comes down to is we can create any
program, but if there isn’t a sustainability
factor to it, they go away. And we’re right
back to square one. So we’re always looking for
how do we sustain a program if we’re going to build it? – You said that at the
hospital for example you have people who
specialize in this so they will help people
to take the first steps and understand what
the challenges are, what the cognitive
impairments are, or in their own home for example what little things they may
need to help them stay there. Are those all part of the
first steps typically? – Yes, well actually
the first step would be just getting that
memory screen you know? If we’re talking dementia,
and that can come at every, every year at their Medicare
physical if you will. That’s part of that, and if
people aren’t offered that, they should really ask for it because it is important to know how your memory is doing. – Right, it’s to
get the baseline, and even so I’m in
my forties and I know where my
cognitive baseline is. Because it doesn’t, if your
cognitive ability changes it doesn’t necessarily
mean you’re going towards dementia or Alzheimer’s but
there are things that you can change in your life to create
a better quality of life, so for everyone to
understand where their baseline is, cognitively, is just like knowing your
baseline for your blood pressure or your sugar, I mean
it’s just any of those it really should
fall right in line. And we shouldn’t be
afraid, because sometimes if our cognitive
changes, it might be due to a medication. Medication interaction. It doesn’t always mean, but
we’re so fearful as a society and kind of taboo
around cognitive change as Alzheimer’s or
dementia, and Lori can speak more to it
because she’s the one who sees that every day,
but I think it’s empowering and the more that
we know and the more that we learn and
empower ourselves, it just creates a better life. – I know we’ve got about
a minute and a half left here, so I
just want to touch on some of the
solutions, places to go, because there’s things like
the senior linkage line which we’ll mention in a moment so folks can get ready
with a pencil for that one, but what are some
of the other things that as people start to deal
with these aging issues, what are some of the
resources or places they can go after this program is over to look up more things? So, Kim? – So the senior linkage
line is the Minnesota Board of Aging’s
senior linkage line. It’s an 800 number. It’s 800-333-2433, and that is from eight to 4:30
there is someone who can answer any question. I look at them as the navigator on any senior related issue. If you have a Medicare question, we do have senior
outreach specialists who do one to one
consulting for that. Medicare, if you any
question you might have on finding a resource. Also minnesotahelp.info is
also another great website, or the Minnesota River Area
Agency on Aging website also. – Okay Lori, tips
that you would have for folks on where to go? – Well, if they’re concerned
the Alzheimer’s Association has a wonderful
website, and that’s actonalz, A-L-Z, .com I believe, and so they could go
there and of course if it’s more right in
this area and they want to give a call to the Chippewa
County Montevideo Hospital we could learn more about
our memory care clinic and we could certainly share
that information with them. – Okay great, Kim
Madsen, Lori Peterson, thank you for
joining us on Compass for a discussion about aging. – Thank you.
– Thanks very much. And that’s it for
this week on the topic of aging in rural areas. Our Compass producer
Laura Kay Prosser will take it from here and
end this week’s episode with the next installment of
the Compass Literature Corner. Thanks for watching. (gentle piano music) – As part of the new
segment to the show called the Compass
Literature Corner, we are talking to local authors who have had an
impact on this region, or whom this region
has had an impact on. However today we are
out of the studio and in Marshall,
Minnesota where we are talking to the
keynote speaker of the Southwest
Initiative Foundation’s Grow Your Own Summit. This author has less of
an impact on the region and more of an insight into
an issue in our region. Ladies and gentlemen,
I’m proud to say that today’s guest
is the political
scientist Robert Putnam. Robert, welcome.
– Thanks very much. – So tell us a little
bit about what inspired your eye-opening book, Our Kids The American Dream in Crisis. – It was inspired
in part by learning more about the current
situation in my hometown. I grew up in a little
town, small town in Ohio. Kids from all social
classes mingled and so on, and then my research team
and I went back there a few years ago to kind of see what the situation was like now, and frankly a disaster had hit. The town, this
little town, was much more divided in economic terms. There was one set of homes
along Lake Erie there that are million
dollar mansions, but then just on the
other side of the road were the dilapidated
double wides and the shacks and the
kids on those two sides of that one road, it’s
called East Harbor Road, I’m talking about a real road, the kids on that side,
the sky’s the limit. The kids on this side,
they have no future. – No opportunity. – And no opportunity, and
that was not true when I, I mean we know
because I’ve gone back and talked to all my classmates of the high school
class of 1959. It wasn’t true then,
it is true now, and what that reflects, this
is the more general point, is a growing gap between
rich kids and poor kids in Port Clinton and
across the country. – Now when you define
the opportunity gap, you defined the impact it has on the economic
future of America. So what are the most crucial
social economic settings that are maybe most
influential to this gap? – Well the gap has grown
for a number of big reasons. If you go up to the
30,000 foot level and say what’s happened
that’s caused this? Partly it’s the
growing income gap between rich families, or
between affluent families and impoverished families. And therefore parents
end up on the right side of the tracks are
able to afford more things and they are spending
more money on their kids and they’re spending more
time with their kids. A second big
difference is actually probably more important,
but is less well known which is that American
society has become more segregated in
social class terms. We’re not more segregated in
religious or racial terms. We’re now all jumbled up in
religious and racial terms, but in social class
terms, increasingly we’re either living
in rich enclaves or in poor enclaves. – There’s not as much
exposure to the poverty, so there’s not as much empathy. – That’s exactly right,
that’s exactly right. You can see the same things
happening in the schools. These kids are mostly
going to schools where all the kids
in their backpack, going to these affluent schools, in their backpack they bring
their parents’ aspirations and their parents’ resources and their parents’
trips to Paris and these kids over here
when they go to school, in their backpacks
they’re bringing you know, gang violence and
drug abuse at home and you see the same
thing in terms of the opportunity that kids have to connect with
other caring adults. For example, there’s
a gap like this in terms of
extracurricular activities. – Because of the pay to play. – Because of pay to
play, exactly right. So as I say you go to
all these different facets of people’s lives. The close focus on the family and then you come wider
and you see the same thing is true, these kids,
the affluent kids are going to church
still, these kids aren’t because their parents
aren’t and that means they don’t have caring adults outside their immediate family. It’s a miracle that
there are still some kids from over here who are
able to make it up, but fewer and fewer
of them will be because not because
they’re not smart. Not because they’ve
done anything wrong except choose the wrong parents, and that’s not fair. – So in the words of your book, what is to be done? What are some of the
important solutions that you think we should
focus more on in the future? – A different sphere
might be we need to make some reforms
in K-12 education. The problem wasn’t
caused by schools, the problem was caused
outside of schools but K-12 improvements
can be helpful. But it also means
things like mentoring. I mean these kids on
the right side of town have lots of other adults
outside the family. Pastors and coaches and
neighbors and so on, and these kids don’t. These kids are
increasingly alone, and so you need to
think about mentoring. You need to think
about getting churches and other community
institutions involved in not just drop by,
not just once a year having lunch with the poor kid and saying how’s
your life going kid? We wouldn’t do that
to our own kids. The way we raise our
own kids is to be there when they need them,
when they need us. – Offer a helping hand. – Exactly, and
that’s what we need to do for these
kids over here too. – So in chapter one, you state “Americans believe
that income inequality “has increased in recent
years and they’re right, “but they aren’t so sure about
the equality of opportunity” but this, and this is
crucial for the book is that conventional indicators
of social mobility are three or four
decades behind. – Yeah. – So explain what kind of
challenges this perspective that the older generation
has on any changes. – That’s where the title
of the book comes from. The title of the book
is comes from the fact when I was growing
up and my parents used the term our kids, they
didn’t mean my sister and me. They meant all the kids in town. The term our kids meant
all the kids in town, but over the course
of the last 50 years, the meaning of the term
our kids has shriveled and so if you talk to
people in Port Clinton now, about the poor kids
in town they say well it’s a sad story
but they’re not my kids. They’re somebody else’s kids,
let them worry about ’em. That’s partly what’s changed. We no longer have this sense
that we’re all in this together and therefore I
have an obligation and an interest, an
economic interest as well as a moral obligation to worry about
other people’s kids. And you know, some people
are going to say sure, not my problem. You know let somebody
else worry about it, but I think a lot of
people are going to say now that I see that story, yeah I gotta worry about it and I will say one last
thing about the stories. I speak to people
all over the country. I’ve spoken to hundreds
of audiences about this, and in my standard talk
I talk about a particular young woman from my
hometown named Mary Sue and she’s led through no fault
of her own, a terrible life. From beginning when
she was very little. And after I talk, this
happened just yesterday in the quad cities in
Iowa, after my talk, a woman came up to me
and said I’m Mary Sue. And she began crying. And I’m not, trying
hard not to tear up, but she said you’ve
told my story but no one else
knows that story. And so the power
of these stories, I’m sorry I’m getting a
little soppy here at the end, but the power of these
stories is people recognize themselves and
others in these stories. – And they respond and
they’re more likely to follow the movement
towards change. Robert, thank you so
much for joining us on the Compass
Literature Corner. – Thank you very much. – That’s it for the
Compass Literature Corner. Please tune in next week
for more people, places, and issues facing
our viewing area. I’m Pioneer’s Laura Kay Prosser and may your compass
always point you in the direction of a good book. (pleasant music) – [Narrator] Major support
for Compass is provided by the ongoing support of
the Leo P. Flynn Estate of Milbank, South Dakota. Additional support
is provided by the Southwest Minnesota
Private Industry Council promoting southwest Minnesota as a place rich
with opportunity. Come for the jobs,
stay for the lifestyle. More information at SWMNPIC.org.




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