Vital Aging Network e-Bulletin

Creating Positive Outcomes
and New Possibilities

By Pam Hayle, Chair, Vital Aging Network

A new year always offers a sense of new possibility, and that is certainly true within the Vital Aging Network as we enter 2016.

2015 was an exciting and productive year with strong outcomes. Here are a few highlights:
  • Evolve Bloomington Class 2015
    Twenty-one individuals completed Evolve courses in Roseville and Bloomington. Participants worked on community projects ranging from exploring the possibility of bringing a YMCA to Bloomington, developing green space at a senior center to working with AARP to create a video to help people defrauded by online dating.
  • Age-Friendly Greater Des Moines launched an Evolve class in October 2015 and, by all reports, are off to a good start.
  • Our Wellness 50+ pilot communities--Alexandria, Hamline Midway, Oakdale and Phillips--have done exceptional work as they continue to grow and deepen their impact. (See the Wellness 50+ update below in this e-Bulletin).
  • During 2015, our Aging with Gusto Task Force added members and focused its attention on creating greater opportunities for participating in these essential discussions about aging. We partnered with Hamline Midway Elders, the YMCA, Episcopal Homes and others.
  • In partnership with Lynn Englund and with funding from Ecumen, we offered our Re-defining Home workshop twice during 2015 to sold out audiences and positive feedback.
  • Use of the VAN website was up 26% in 2015 over the previous year.
2016 offers exciting new possibilities for the VAN network.

Aging with Gusto is on target for doing what the just released "Final Report of the White House Council on Aging" says is our "ultimate challenge":

"Changing the perception of aging is our ultimate challenge and charge as we go forward into the next decade. By changing Americans' attitudes about aging, we can help every American enjoy a longer, better, more active, and more independent life, and effectively engage the challenges and embrace the possibilities that are inherent in our aging population."

We will complete the Wellness 50+ three-year pilot in 2016 and are excited about the real impact these initiatives are having on people's health and well-being. We plan to consolidate our learnings and expand our reach into new communities during 2016.

As more people are moving away from full-time employment, helping people find avenues to continue to use their skills and talents for common good is even more important. We will continue this work through our Evolve program and explore new ways of engaging people in civic life.

We also will host two fundraising events, our annual Night at the Guthrie and an evening of fun activity at Surly Brewing in October. Watch for details as these events get closer. logo 

Join us as a part of the VAN network in 2016. Participate in a VAN program or event, consider volunteering with VAN or make a contribution to keep VAN strong. We are highly motivated for success and good work in 2016. See you soon, and Happy New Year!
Wellness 50+ Teams:
Making an Impact
Wellness 50_ logo
The Vital Aging Network's Wellness 50+ pilots are showing great promise as a new approach for peer-to-peer support for health and well-being among older adults. Each is positioned to grow and thrive well into the future. Here's a short summary of what's happening in each community.

Vital Living Alexandria increase physical fitness of participants in its 2015 pilot. Sixty percent of the pilot project participants had significant positive changes and gains in five or more components out of the Senior Fitness Test. The team has two significant projects in the works for 2016. They will partner with Alexandria Community Education to offer a series of courses related to wellness and launch the Aging Mastery Program, a program of the National Council on Aging. This program will provide an entry point for deeper engagement in the Vital Living Alexandria initiative.

Participants in Hamline Midway event
Hamline Midway
The Hamline Midway Health Movement has designed a series of events for 2016 to engage older community members in wellness. Programs will focus on yoga, training for a 5K, caregiving for people with Alzheimer's and dementia and more. At the gatherings, participants will be encouraged to set goals for themselves, then track their progress and report their results.

Oakdale Wellness 50+ is building off its success in offering the Senior Fitness Test in a senior housing cooperative to make the test available to a broader cross-section of the community. They have planned "Discover Your Fitness" events throughout 2016. Participants will receive one-on-one help and resources to improve fitness, with information about and tools for supporting each other in positive behavior change.

In 2015, the Phillips Wellness 50+ team completed a demonstration project call "Munchies, Music & Movement" in partnership with Hennepin County Extension
Phillips Wellness 50_ Munchies_ Music _ Movement
Phillips Wellness 50+ Munchies,
Music & Movement
nutrition educators. The team hosted eight weekly sessions, timed to coincide with weekly community meals at the Center for Changing Lives (a collaboration between Lutheran Social Services and Messiah Lutheran Church). The team is partnering with Ebenezer senior apartments to host a second series early in 2016. In addition, the team is exploring a partnership with Kairos Alive!, a nonprofit that engages people in dance and storytelling.

Thank you to our Wellness 50+ funders:

Wellness 50+ Funders

Read more about Wellness 50+

Join the Stratis Health Medicare
Health Care Advisory Council

Stratis Health, as part of Lake Superior Quality Innovation Network (QIN), is seeking Medicare beneficiaries, family members or caregivers to join its Medicare Health Care Advisory Council to help Medicare make health care better in Minnesota. Their objective is to foster a Minnesota health care environment that is safe, person-centered and focused on prevention and wellness.

The Medicare Health Care Advisory Council will:
  • Discuss and recommend changes to improve health care quality and safety to meet the needs of Medicare beneficiaries
  • Bring the perspective of Medicare beneficiaries to doctors, nurses, and others in health care so they understand how to better meet their needs
  • Review or help create informational materials that are easier for all beneficiaries and family members to understand and use.
Download the flyer for more information and get the application if interested.

The first meeting of the advisory council will occur in February, so applications should be submitted by January 31. Contact Jenna Kornberg at 952-853-8583 or if you have additional questions.
Volunteer with VAN

Aging with Gusto logo
Aging with Gusto Facilitator
Positive self-perceptions can make a big difference in our lives, particularly as we age. Research shows that how we think about ourselves can affect health outcomes, quality of life and even longevity. Yet, it's easy for biases, misconceptions and stereotypes about older people to sneak into our thinking. Aging with Gusto discussions offer an engaging and fun way to talk about our experiences of aging and learn about ways to maximize the wonderful gift of a long life.
We are currently looking for volunteer facilitators to lead Aging with Gusto discussions. The Vital Aging Network will provide complete training, a facilitator's guide and opportunities to co-lead discussions with an experienced facilitator. Download the position description. For more information contact Julie Roles at


Religiosity, prayer, happiness, and
overall life satisfaction in older adults

Photo of Victoria Beach
If you are aged 65 to 84, you are invited to be part of a research study about the relationship of prayer, religiosity, health, and life satisfaction in older adults. This study is being conducted by Victoria Beach, a student at the College of Saint Benedict, and Dr. Stephen Stelzner, a professor at the College of Saint Benedict. You don't need to consider yourself religious to participate.

The survey consists of a variety of questions and will take 15-30 minutes to complete.


Oakdale residents 50+ are invited to a "Discover Your Fitness" event.
Jean Streetar, Washington County Public Health Program Manager, will lead a conversation on healthy aging.
A fitness expert will be available to give one-on-one advice about your personal physical fitness, plus valuable wellness tips.  

Senior Fitness Test: Find out how you are doing!
This test, given at the event, is designed to test for strength, balance, and flexibility: skills that will extend your independent living ability. 
Saturday, January 9, 2016
team participants

10:30 AM to 12:00 NOON
Oakdale Discovery Center
4444 Hadley Ave.
Oakdale, Minnesota 55128 [map]

For updates and more information, visit our Facebook page: Discover Your Fitness

Come for the learning, stay for the prizes and refreshments!   
Download the flyer.  

Alzheimer's Disease Exercise Study

Have you been told that you have Alzheimer's disease? Are you 66 years old or older? Consider participating in an exercise research program being conducted by the University of Minnesota. The purpose of the study is to test how a six-month exercise program affects symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and brain function over a year.

Benefits of participation:
  • Regular exercise is recommended for older adults and has many health benefits
  • Participants will be supervised for safety during exercise
  • Once enrolled, free transportation will be provided.
  • Remuneration will be provided.
  • Most participants will receive a gym membership
  • Family caregivers may enjoy 6 to 10 hours of respite weekly
For more information visit the website, call the study coordinator at 612-626-9490 or email for information at
In the News

The White House has held a Conference on Aging every decade, beginning in 1961, to identify and advance actions to improve the quality of life of older Americans. In 2015, the United States marked the 50th anniversaries of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) provided an opportunity to recognize the importance of these key programs as well as to look ahead to the next decade.

A Daughter to Father Heart-to-Heart: Tom & Jennifer Brokaw
TEDxStanford published August 2012
What someone wants at the end of life can be hard to pin down in words. Even a phrase like "no heroic measures" leaves family and physicians wondering what steps to take and when to stop. Listen to this engaging TEDxStanford Talk between Tom Brokaw and his daughter, Jennifer, an emergency medicine physician.

In the Twin Cities, Local Leaders Yield Influence Behind the Scenes
The New York Times, December 28, 2015, by Nelson D. Schwartz
The Working Team of the Itasca Project, a private civic initiative by 60 or so local leaders meet every Friday morning to further growth and development in the Twin Cities. Even more challenging, they also take on thorny issues that executives elsewhere tend to avoid, like economic disparities and racial discrimination.

Keep Things Simple for a Healthy, Long Life
Minnesota Public Radio, January 4, 2016, by John Shumann
While dealing with diseases is often a matter of playing the probabilities more than providing precise diagnostic information, prevention is fairly straightforward. Here's what you need to do.

The Wisdom of the Aged
The New York Times, December 25, 2015, by John Leland
New Yorkers answer the question: What do you want to do when you get old?

Don't Freak Out about Health Care Costs in Retirement
CNN Money, December 30, 2015, by Katie Lobosco
Health care will likely be your biggest expense during the golden years. It's obviously a tough number to nail down and one that will vary by person, but there are estimates out there.

Volunteer Opportunities
Minnehaha Creek Watershed District
Board Openings
The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners is accepting applications for two vacancies on the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board. This board coordinates the management of water and related land resources in the watershed that drains into Lake Minnetonka and Minnehaha Creek. The deadline for applications is February 25, with interviews to be held at the following board committee meeting. More information.

Kairos Alive!
Dancing Partner for Chair Dancers
Join us as a volunteer on Thursday, January 14th from 10:00 to 11:30 AM at the VA Adult Day Program for an Intergenerational Dance Hall. Kairos Alive! Tour. Volunteers will be dancing partners to "chair dancers" and other Veterans who would like to dance. No experience needed, but friendly and welcoming interaction is key. Performers: Kairos Alive! artists with the Carluster Crumplebee Orchestra. To RSVP as a volunteer, please email: or call 612-926-5454 for more information.

Store to Door
Volunteer Order Taker
Would you like to assist seniors to have access to food resources? Store To Door, a nonprofit grocery shopping and delivery service, serves seniors (60+) who wish to remain at home. Volunteer order takers volunteer about one hour each week from home, calling clients and entering grocery orders in an online system. This virtual volunteering makes it easy to volunteer at home, during a lunch break or in any other location where you have online access. Upcoming training sessions will be held at Store To Door, 1935 County Road B2 W Suite #250, Roseville, MN 55113, on Fridays: January 8 or February 5, 2016 from 1-2:30 PM and Tuesdays: January 19 or February 16, 2016 from 6-7:30 PM Online training is available too. For more information or to sign up for a training session, contact or call 651-642-1892.

Ebenezer Minneapolis Campus
Truth Point Surveyor
Ebenezer is recruiting 2-4 volunteers for a long term project conducting a survey of residents. A 3-month commitment is requested for this position, schedule is flexible, possibly 6 hours/week. Ideal candidates will practice good confidentiality and boundary issues, have good social skills and be able to navigate a Notepad touch screen.

Food Shelf Volunteers
Assist with an In-House Food Shelf program. Come and help every 3rd Wednesday of each month at 2:15-4:30pm. You will be helping carry in food, set up tables, handing out numbers, passing out food and taking down. They need up to 12 volunteers. You will receive mandated Civil Rights training (20 minutes, before your first shift). Volunteers are asked to arrive at 1:45 pm to help unload the food truck.

Ebenezer has many additional opportunities. Download a flyer or contact Laura Arne, Director of Volunteers, at 612-872-8515. 

Amherst H Wilder Foundation
Wilder Caregiver Peer Support Volunteer
Did you take care of your parents as they were aging? Your spouse? Your partner? Your friend? Then you get it: caregiving can be challenging, frustrating, fulfilling ... If you are a former caregiver and want to make a difference in the life of a current caregiver for an older adult, then consider becoming a Peer Support (P.S.) volunteer. PS volunteers are former caregivers who are matched with current caregivers for monthly phone conversations. Volunteers understand what it means to care for someone because they have done it, and now they want to help others in their caregiving roles. Volunteers will be trained prior to being matched and are asked to commit to at least six months; volunteers can expect to spend 1-3 hours a month volunteering. For more information, please contact Grant Watkins, at or call 651-280-2504.

Fitness Leader
Is 2016 your year to get fit or stay fit? Are a leader? Is volunteering at a great St. Paul community organization on your list of things to do this year? Look no further, Lyngblomsten has multiple opportunities for you to get/stay fit, lead and volunteer all at the same time! Tai Ji Quan, Walking Groups and A Matter of Balance classes are just a few of the volunteer opportunities that await you at Lyngblomsten. Check  out, go to the "Get Involved" tab for more volunteer information and for an application, or call Shelli at 651-414-5297.

Cafe and Gift Shop Assistance
Did you enjoy your retail career but are ready for a change of pace? Are you a social person that wants to volunteer in the Como area of St. Paul? Why not come to Anna's Café and Gift Shop at Lyngblomsten Care Center? Anna's Café and Gift Shop volunteers help residents/tenants (average age 87), staff and families find gift items, greeting cards, snacks and personal items in our small gift shop and scoop ice cream or make quick cook items in the Café. Volunteers also run the cash register and visit with customers and each other! Training is provided. Weekday shifts are from 8:30-1:00 and 1:00-4:15, weekend shifts are from 11:45-4:15. Fill out an application at or call Shelli at 651-414-5297 for more information.

The Dakota County Public Health Department
Dakota County's Health Promotion Unit is looking for volunteers to help co-facilitate falls prevention workshops at community sites. The workshop is called "A Matter of Balance" (an 8-week falls prevention workshop series for older adults). Prior to working with the community, volunteers will receive a free 2-day training Feb. 24 & 25, 2016, offered by the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging and step-by-step curriculum to lead discussions and gentle exercises with a small group of older adults. There will be two facilitators for each class. More information.
The following calendar items are presented as information only. They are not Vital Aging Network events.

For Your Calendar

January and February
"Artful Living" Community Classes and Programs
Lyngblomsten Campus
1415 Almond Avenue
St Paul, MN 55108
Artful Living is designed to provide quality arts experiences to enhance lives, ignite creativity, and drive passion toward living full, whole, and healthy lives.For more details, visit or download the flyer.

Saturday, January 23, 2016
The U.S Occupation of the Philippines
10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Lectures will occur at 10am and 2pm when Professor Susan K. Harris will discuss the situation after the U.S. liberated the Philippines from Spanish rule in 1898. She argues that at home, the exploit was hailed as a great moral victory, but the next move was hotly contested: Should the U.S. annex the land it had freed? She will discuss how antagonists on either side of the Philippines argument did agree on one point: that the United States was divinely appointed to bring democracy-and white Protestant culture-to the rest of the world. She will discuss how the decision that America should act as "God's arbiters" in a globalizing world gave rise to current debates on topics ranging from evangelical politics and American exceptionalism. Susan K. Harris is the Joyce and Elizabeth Hall Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of Kansas. More information.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
The Wedding Heard 'Round the World
7:00PM to 9:00 PM
222 21st Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Join authors Michael McConnell, Jack Baker, and Gail Karwoski to celebrate the book about Michael and Jack and their 1971 wedding - the first gay marriage in America. Free and open to the public. More information.

Thursday, January 28, 2016
The Ethical Challenges of Genomic Medicine: New Data & New Duties
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Campus Club, 4th Floor of Coffman Memorial Union
300 Washington Ave SE
Minneapolis MN 55455
Genomic medicine is revolutionizing biomedicine and health care. Yet the ethical challenges are significant. Genomic sequencing generates a flood of genetic information about research participants and patients, leaving researchers and clinicians grappling with questions about when to share the results and with whom. Meanwhile, the complexities of genomic discovery are blurring the boundaries of research and clinical care. Susan Wolf will discuss her NIH-funded research on these cutting-edge issues and emerging recommendations. This presentation includes dinner and the cost is $28. More information.

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