Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota Partners with University of Minnesota on New Dementia Research

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) is teaming up with the University of Minnesota School of Public Health to participate in a new research project to provide greater understanding about the best and most effective ways to support families caring for loved ones with dementia.

Through the project, LSS Senior Companions will be specially trained with an evidence-based curriculum to provide care and support to older adults with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia conditions. The impact on the health and wellbeing of those with dementia and their caregivers will be measured in the study.

Lutheran Social Service deploys nearly 350 Senior Companions who provide friendship and support to help their peers run errands, get to medical appointments and remain living independently in their homes.

“Our Older Adult Services touch thousands of adults across the state each year and a growing area of need is for individuals and families is caregiver support for families who have loved ones experiencing dementia,” said Roxanne Jenkins, associate vice president of Older Adults Services at Lutheran Social Service. “We are extremely honored to be selected as a partner and we look forward to the outcome of this work to improve support to individuals and families facing dementia.”

For people over age 60, an estimated 5-8 percent are affected by dementia-related conditions, according to the World Health Organization. With increasing numbers of older adults, those rates are expected to rise sharply in coming years. The Minnesota Department of Health predicts nearly 120,000 Minnesotans will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s by 2025.

The research project is funded by a two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Joseph E. Gaugler, a professor and the Robert L. Kane Endowed Chair of Long-Term Care and Aging at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, will be leading the initiative.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota began in 1865 when a Lutheran pastor and his congregation opened an orphanage for children near Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota. Today, with 2,300 employees and 8,000 volunteers, Lutheran Social Service supports one in 65 Minnesotans through services that inspire hope, change lives and build community. Statewide, the organization seeks to foster safe and supportive homes for children, restore health and wellness in families, empower people with disabilities to live the lives they imagine, and promote health, independence and quality of life for older adults. For comprehensive information about the work of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, visit