Spotlight: Older Adults

In Catholic Charities’ 150 year history, we have always served those most in need, but the population of people who need our services has changed throughout history.

According to the most recent Wilder survey, older adults (55 and older) make up the smallest age group of those experiencing homelessness at 10%, but this population also saw the biggest increase, up 25% from 2015. In response to this increasing need, Catholic Charities services to low income older adults and individuals living with disabilities have doubled in volume over the last several years. This includes specialized services and response systems to serve elders experiencing homelessness and relying on emergency shelters.

In 2019, Catholic Charities Aging and Disability Services increased 8.5% over the previous year to serve nearly 4,800 people.

These concerning trends are why we convened experts and community members for an important conversation on aging, inequity and poverty at the 2020 Social Justice Assembly. In case you missed it, here are a few resources:

  • Allison Luizzi, Project Director of Minnesota Compass, shared the demographic trends influencing our population, including the rising age wave. Learn more here.
  • Peter Cox, MPR News reporter on the aging beat, shared what he has learned and moderated the conversation. Check out his recent stories here.
  • Pahoua Hoffman, Executive Director of the Citizens League, spoke about their project “Calling Home,” an initiative looking at “home” as a starting place for intergenerational conversations about aging and planning for the life changes that are inevitable. See the website here. 
  • Melea Blanchard, Program Manager of Catholic Charities’ Homeless Elders program, the only program of its kind in Minnesota, shared the unique needs of homeless elders and how her staff help men and women transition to permanent housing and provide follow-up support. Learn more about the Homeless Elder program here.

Thank you to our sponsors HealthPartners and St. Catherine University for supporting this important community conversation and allowing this event to remain free of charge.

Want to get make a difference in the lives of those we serve right away? According to our Aging and Disability Services team, these items are always in need:

Low Price Point:

  • Reusable Grocery Bags
  • Pill Organizers (more than one slot per day is helpful)
  • Denture Cleaner and Adhesive
  • Fanny Packs
  • Lotion
  • Anti-slip Socks and Diabetic Socks
  • ID pockets that hang around neck, not a wallet
  • Large Print Word Find Books or Crossword Puzzle Books
  • Meditative Coloring Book

Mid-Price Point:

  • Personal Care Kits—includes toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, soap, washcloth, lotion, deodorant, razors, shaving cream
  • Lotion Sets or Toiletry Sets
  • Underwear
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Scent free Laundry Soap
  • Large Print Planners

High Price Points:

  • Folding Utility Cards
  • Resettlement Baskets
  • Electric Razors
  • Small Kitchen Appliances—i.e., coffee pot, toaster, blender, crock pot
  • Box Fans

New, unused items on this list can be brought to the Catholic Charities Distribution Center.

Be sure to join our advocacy team at an upcoming advocacy workshop to learn how you can make a difference for older adults experiencing housing instability:

Wednesday, March 4, 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.
Saint Olaf Catholic Church
215 S 8th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402

RSVP TODAY: 612-647-2586 or

Wednesday, March 25, 7:30-9:00 a.m.
(Optional tour of the new building, 9:00-9:30 a.m.!)
Catholic Charities Saint Paul Opportunity Center
422 Dorothy Day Place, St Paul MN 55102

RSVP TODAY: 612-647-2586 or

And be sure to join us at Homeless Day on the Hill March 11.

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