LSS Morning Out Gives Caregivers Chance to Recharge

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Bob and GailThief River Falls Resident Bob Loken provides care for his partner, Gail Hjelle, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease nearly five years ago. He assists her with daily tasks including getting ready in the morning, remembering medications and sitting down for meals.

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia can leave caretakers, like Loken, with little free time to relax and recharge. Morning Out, a service of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS), offers a much-needed break for caregivers and a fun outing for adults who are 60 or older, or who have a dementia-related condition.

Once a week, specially-trained volunteers with LSS Caregiver Support and Respite services support older adults in a group setting as they join in for coffee, conversation and fun activities throughout the morning.

“Morning Out has been very positive, and it’s helpful for everyone involved,” Bob said. “Gail sometimes asks when she gets to go back. She’s just a positive, happy person and enjoys everyone there.”

Morning Out takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Thursday at Zion Lutheran Church, 505 Main Ave. North. Featured activities include crafts, exercises, singing, dancing and more.

This service offers older adults a few hours to themselves to rest, catch up with friends or enjoy other activities. For Loken, this personal time means a chance to run errands, take care of tasks around the house and focus on projects in his workshop — including a patent he is working on.

Julie Praska-Moser, regional manager with Lutheran Social Service said the group setting benefits both caregivers and the loved ones they support.

“Our Morning Out Program offers the socialization that people with memory loss need,” Julie said. “When someone has a memory loss diagnosis, they tend to turn down social opportunities because of embarrassment or they may no longer be able to carry on a conversation. Our service gives them the opportunity to socialize with their peers who are going through similar symptoms. There is no judgment; they are free to be themselves. It is beautiful to see.”

Lutheran Social Service is also seeking Morning Out volunteers near Thief River Falls. Training is provided and scheduling is flexible to accommodate busy schedules.  

For more information about Morning Out, or to become a volunteer, contact Julie Praska-Moser at 218.686.6228 or visit our Morning Out webpage.