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This week, hundreds of caregivers, volunteers and aging services professionals will visit the State Capitol for a week of face-to-face meetings with lawmakers.

The goal of these meetings is simple: to share stories about the changing faces and places of senior care in Minnesota, and urge lawmakers to make this issue a top priority.

Gayle Kvenvold, president and CEO of Aging Services of Minnesota, set the stage for this week’s meetings:

“Someone will always say there isn’t enough money. This is about priorities. Minnesota seniors and caregivers should be among our top priorities – they deserve our support and investment.”

When advocates and caregivers meet with their elected officials this week, they will highlight five key ways to strengthen senior care and prepare Minnesota for the future:

1.      Invest in Caregivers

  • Provide wages that attract and retain the very best caregivers, paying them adequately for the demanding work they do on behalf of Minnesota seniors.
  • Protect the more than 112,600 MN jobs that senior care generates across the state.

 2.      Invest in the Places Where Senior Care is Delivered

  • Fund infrastructure improvements in senior care buildings and communities that will increase the quality of life for residents and allow caregivers to deliver the best possible care.

3.      Invest in Quality 

  • Senior care is so much more than nursing homes. We must invest in new models and innovation that will continue to improve quality, while offering seniors the care/services they need and want.

4.      Create Financial Stability for Seniors, Families and Providers

  • People who can afford it should plan and pay for the cost of long-term care, and we should create tools to help them do that; and
  • Low income seniors should still have access to a safety net and the right level of services for their unique needs. Funding for home and community based service must be adequate to pay for what consumers need.

5.      Invest in the Future

  • Fund technology that improves how we care for seniors, and find ways to truly integrate long-term care services and supports with the rest of the health care world.

Advocates also will share with lawmakers the results of a recent public opinion survey conducted by the Long-Term Care Imperative. Key findings of that survey include:

  • 85 percent of Minnesota voters support increasing funding for in-home and community based care to make it easier for seniors to stay independent longer.
  • 77 percent said they support increasing funding for nursing homes to improve overall quality.
  • 75 percent support allowing individuals to cash in their life insurance in order to pay for long-term care.
  • And finally, 64 percent of voters are willing to pay more in taxes to improve long-term care in Minnesota.

Will you be at the Capitol this week? What will you advocate for? Take a few minutes to visit the Stars Among Us online gallery, where hundreds of senior caregivers have shared what they want lawmakers to know about the important work they do.


For a long time, senior care advocates, lawmakers and the media talked about the Age Wave as something that was “on the horizon” – somewhere out in the future.

Today, that wave of growing demand is on our front door step, and it’s time to ask a key question: Is Minnesota ready?

The second (here is the first) in a series of infographics from the Long-Term Care Imperative focuses on the demographic and economic realities we face, and how Minnesotans feel about specific proposals to help the state – and individuals – prepare for the future.

There is no single, magic way to prepare Minnesota for the changing needs of an aging population. We will need government, individuals, families, senior care providers, caregivers and entire communities to work together.

The Age Wave isn’t coming to Minnesota – it’s here.

The Stars Among Us campaign is an initiative of Aging Services of Minnesota. Our goal is to recognize and celebrate the individual caregivers and aging services professionals who dedicate their lives and careers to serving older adults. They are the backbone of our senior care system. Their stories don’t often make headlines, but they are changing lives every day.


Today, we’re shining a light on Katie Kopher, Assisted Living Program Coordinator at Jones-Harrison in Minneapolis:

What inspires you to serve older adults? Is there a mentor or fellow caregiver who motivates or helps you? What keeps you going on tough days?
The stories I’ve have heard, the lessons I’ve learned, the tears I’ve shared and the happiness brought to my heart to know such a wonderful generation! I wake up every morning excited to go to what some may call work, I call an energizing community. I can thank my mother for being an Activities Director at a nursing home when I was born. She continues to work in therapeutic recreation.

My mom taught me that it isn’t about “me”. I plan to pass the same passion and spirit on to my daughter as my mother did with me. It’s being supportive and having compassion no matter who you work with. There are tough days. I keep a picture of my papa on my desk and when it is tough I look at it and say “What next papa?” I then remember that there is a reason for life’s events and to keep painting the fence or the paint will dry!

What does a career serving older adults mean to you? What is the most meaningful or rewarding part of your job? The most challenging part?
I learn something new every day. It is about finding a way to reach the person who no longer comes out of their room because the sun came up that day. To talk to family and friends to get stories and odd information that may mean nothing to someone else. I strive to make the quality of life for each individual fulfilling for residents and their family.

The biggest reward is that I get to be a part of someone’s memories, stories…life. I love when they smile and the not so happy person says “Thank you.” The most challenging part is to try to be there for everyone all at the same time.

What do you advocate for? What do you want public policy makers to know about the work you do?
I am a big advocate that people cannot be stressed and relaxed at the same time. It just isn’t possible. That is why my co-worker and I work in getting as many folks involved in our senior community as possible. Trying new activities at 100 is better than not trying it at all. I want policy makers to know that people in Therapeutic Recreation are here and here to stay. Baby boomers are coming and they will need places to go and MANY activities to do. I value my job. I wish that we had a little more money for the hard work we do. Policy makers need to remember that it is us that will be organizing their leisure pursuits in the future.


Thank you, Katie, for all you do. You are a great example of the dedicated, talented people who serve Minnesota seniors each day.

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Aging matters to all of us.

This blog will address the issues, questions, challenges and opportunities that surface as we work to meet the demands of an aging population.

It’s also a place to highlight the people and organizations whose passion, creativity and commitment are shaping the future of older adult services in Minnesota.

Everyone has a story about how aging impacts their life – we hope you’ll join the conversation and share your story.

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