The Ulen Senior Center hosted a special launch party for a brand new program last month. Eric Bergerson was the keynote speaker. Bergerson talked about the benefits of aging in a small town and he listed several perks. But it wasn’t just the seniors in Ulen enjoying the presentation. Thanks to the new program, called Clay County Age Well, his presentation was viewed by seniors in four Clay County communities.

A group of seniors watch a program at the Moorhead site (Hjemkomst Center). Photo by Deb Trygstad

The program installed videoconferencing equipment at the Barnesville Senior Center, REACH Hawley, Rollag Lutheran Church, Ulen Senior Center, and the City of Moorhead at the Hjemkomst Center. Each site is up and running on the new program and were able to watch Bergerson except for Barnesville (the Barnsville site is still being set up).

How does it work? One site hosts the program live and they are broadcasted to the other locations. Everyone can see everyone who is attending in any of the sites. It’s like a virtual meeting.

According to Trudy Latozke and Carrie Carney of Eventide, it began several  years ago when they were approached by a program called Silos to Circles Network. This program works to improve access to, and awareness of, an interconnected and effective network of local, supportive resources that foster independence, health, and engagement in community. A coalition was formed including Clay County Social Service, Barnesville Area HELPERS, Eventide Senior Living Communities, Lakes and Prairies Community Action Partnership (CAPLP), Land of the Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging (DSAAA), Lutheran Social Service MN (LSSMN), and Rural Enrichment Counseling Headquarters, Inc. (REACH). They named the program Clay County Age Well.

Clay County Age Well started out doing a survey with seniors in Clay County. The results indicated that transportation and lifelong learning were big needs in rural Minnesota. The seniors in the rural towns said it was hard to get into Moorhead to attend programs, especially in the winter months. Since Eventide was already successfully using a similar program to connect their campuses in Jamestown and Devil Lake they proposed their interactive videoconferencing technology.

Clay County Age Well strives to provide older adults and family caregivers with opportunities to age well in their community. The purpose of the program is to foster awareness of and effectively connect people to existing community assets to help them maintain health and independence. Besides learning to age well, this technology also can offer opportunities to do fun and interesting things like the presentation from Bergerson and movie night. Anything that can be broadcasted or pulled up on your computer can be utilized. Anyone can attend and you can get together with other people. Most of the programs are free and all you need to do is show up at the site.  If you want to attend at home on your own computer, you can do that as well. Just log into https://stcmn.org/claycountyagewell/events/

The advantages of this new technology can bring programming for rural seniors that can benefit them no matter where they live or what the weather might be outside.

Upcoming events for Clay County Age Well in September

Bone Builders Class is offered every Monday (excluding Labor Day) and Wednesday from 9:30 am – 10:30 am. Hjemkmost Center, 202 1st Ave North, Moorhead

Lake Agassiz Regional Library Presents
Polka Sol Sept. 5 from 6- 7 pm. Barnesville Senior Community Center, 501 2nd Ave. NE, Barnesville