The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


High-tech and grace-filled

Senior care provider helps people live well and longer at home

By 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the number of Americans aged 65 and older will grow from 40 million in 2011 (13 percent of the population) to a whopping 88.5 million (1 in 5 people). That has implications for how care will be provided to seniors, say leaders of social service agencies.

"We want to keep people in their homes as long as possible because that's their desire," said Roger Paulsberg, president and CEO of Lutheran Life Communities, Arlington Heights, Ill. "From the standpoint of mission and ministry, that's where it's at. People are living longer, and there may not be enough room at facilities after awhile. So there's not just a need for us to help in residential living but in the wider community. We get calls from adult children who'd like a trusted agency to check up on their mom, to make sure she's safe and that she's taking her medicine. Technology can help with that."

Frieda Dumalski wears a safety pendant
Frieda Dumalski wears a safety pendant from Lutheran Life Communities in Arlington Heights, Ill., to help her live independently and give her niece peace of mind.

Through online video technology, such as Skype, many seniors connect more frequently with family members, Paulsberg said. "But even on Skype, you may still be wondering, 'Do I really know she's OK?'"

Take Frieda Dumalski. She lives independently in a villa on the Arlington Heights campus of Lutheran Life Communities. She intends to live there as long as she can before transitioning into other agency housing. She drives to her volunteer work with developmentally disabled children served by Bethesda, an ELCA-affiliated agency.

But Cindy Grenke, a licensed practical nurse with Lutheran Life Communities, worried about her aunt living alone, especially after the death of Dumalski's husband two years ago.

"My niece, Cindy, insisted I get this pendant," Dumalski said. "It's waterproof so I don't ever have to take it off. If I push the button, they'll call me to see if I'm OK."

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