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Ramse named Living at Home director; program assisted 242 elderly last year

Susan Ramse

Susan Ramse has assumed the role of executive director of Living at Home, bringing extensive experience in medical-related administration to the position.

Ramse concentrates on the financial aspects of the program that mobilizes volunteers and other community resources to enable seniors to remain living in the home.

"I work behind the scenes," she said of spearheading fundraisers and grantwriting. "Beth (Waller) and Laurel (Hed) conduct the fieldwork."

The aptly named Living at Home program began in 1992, Sharon Voyda answering a want ad in the

Enterprise. She spearheaded the program that assists seniors who wish to remain "living at home" as long as safely possible.

The program has burgeoned with 160 volunteers donating 7,216 hours of time last year, assisting 242 elderly residents in southern Hubbard and eastern Becker counties.

"We facilitate neighbors helping neighbors," Ramse said of the services offered in Park Rapids, Osage, Nevis and Akeley communities.

"We want to be here to serve, not just the care receivers but caregivers," Ramse said of respite care.

The vital services might entail chauffeuring a senior to a doctor's appointment, assisting with grocery shopping or building a ramp or grab bars to ensure mobility.

"We cannot function without volunteers," Ramse said. "They are the absolute backbone of this organization," which, in the long run, saves the city, county, state - taxpayers - money.

A wave of baby boomers hitting 65 begins in 2010 - a tsunami, in effect.

"With a strong support system, people stay in homes longer," Ramse said.

Living at Home will conduct a "Rapid Screen" to determine the risk factor for people remaining in homes.

"We're not home care," Ramse said, but Living at Home works with home care agencies to coordinate services.

Living at Home receives funding from the Older Americans Act, the state, Operation Round Up and foundations but the majority of the money received is from local contributions from care receivers, family members and area organizations and residents.

A "celebrity dinner" with a silent auction is on the docket April 29.

In March, Living at Home will kick off its memory care project, which will serve as a resource for those with early memory loss, caregivers and family members.

Hed, a licensed social worker, will serve as the caregiver support coach, providing information, coaching and services tailored to those in early stages of memory loss, including Memory Club, exercise, nutrition, financial counseling services and driving guidance.

Living at Home board members include Ralph Badger, chair; Rev. Chris Davis, vice chair; Leah Walters, secretary; Tom Synstegard, treasurer and George Lueck, Talaine Collins, RoJean Cummins, Dave Southward, Darla Bergquist and Fred Lundstrom.