Lisa Engdahl, LSW, Social Worker, Senior Outreach & Caregiver Services
Senior Community Services, Minnetonka MN
Caregiving Was In The Cards From The Start
While Lisa has been in her current role since 2013 she has been supporting caregivers for decades. It started before high school babysitting their neighbors kids(aka respite care). Through high school Lisa did nursing assistant work. Then she was drawn into the school of social work in college. Eventually after years of professional service she was caregiver to her parents when their need came about.
Alzheimer’s Disease Demonstration Project Circa 1990
Lisa jumped at the chance to work on a federally funded research project. It’s focus was studying and developing models of home and community-based care for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. In coordination with efforts in Duluth and Ramsey County Lisa worked for five years on the program through Ebenezer in Hennepin county.
“It was thrilling to be part of the research and development to create and deliver programming for patients and families who had such need for support” Lisa said. The programming that came from the work did a lot to provide support and longevity for both caregivers and recipients. That federally backed work continues to this day.
Caregiver Support Extends Independence and Dignity
The empowerment that caregivers and families experience from the light Lisa shines to better navigate their situation never gets old. When asked about what drives her in this work Lisa replied, “Seeing the relief in the discovery that “I’m not alone in this!” is very satisfying.” She went on to say, “I like identifying all the pieces of their puzzle and evaluating what is needed and getting it all put in order.”
Successful Caregiving is Powerful
One striking story Lisa shared was helping a husband learn to manage his wife’s decline at home when others were strongly suggesting memory care placement. After the work of identifying resources and helping him manage all the pieces he was able to care for his wife through her end of life at home. Following her death Lisa and his support group helped him take stock of the gift he gave his wife in “finishing well”.
Caregiver Support Comes In Many Ways
Senior Community Services provides three formats and a variety of choices to access support.
- Caregiver support groups are offered 18 times in 9 different locations around the west and south metro as well as online.
- “Memory Cafés” offer enrichment and support for recipients and their caregivers at three locations. These activity sessions for recipients allow caregivers to separately attend support group at the same location.
- Caregiver consultations are available by phone or in person at home or in the community to evaluate needs and identify and coordinate supports and resources. Resources abound from home adaptations to housing alternatives to Financial and legal planning, not to mention food and energy assistance.
Support Begets Support
Lisa’s favorite tale is of a couple of husbands attending the same support group. When each of their wives wound up being hospitalized at the same time and followed by transitional care, each husband was reeling a bit until they both arrived in their wife’s (shared) room only to find each other as the husband of his wife’s roommate.
That bit of serendipity took a tremendous weight off everybody’s shoulders. It also gave them great story telling back at the support group.
“Lisa has an exceptional range of skills from direct service and developing innovative approaches to providing service and collaborating with a variety of community partners. Her expertise is matched only by her compassion for those she serves and her commitment to improving their emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing.” Adele Mehta, Director Senior Outreach & Caregiver Services