Home > Newsroom > Consumer Technology Association Foundation Supports Lutheran Services in America Robotics Program to Combat Social Isolation

Press Releases & Statements Consumer Technology Association Foundation Supports Lutheran Services in America Robotics Program to Combat Social Isolation

June 20, 2024

WASHINGTON — Lutheran Services in America announces its continued partnership with the Consumer Technology Association® Foundation for the fifth straight year to combat social isolation amongst older adults. The CTA Foundation awarded Lutheran Services in America a grant to support an innovative pilot program at Lyngblomsten, a senior services nonprofit headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, that is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to foster engagement and social connection amongst 50 older adults through the use of robotics.

The new funding will allow Lyngblomsten to leverage social robots, which use natural language processing programmed by artificial intelligence, to facilitate personalized conversations with older adults about their interests and hobbies. The older adults who are participating reside at, or visit, one of Lyngblomsten’s senior living communities in St. Paul or Lino Lakes. The pilot will evaluate the efficacy of companion robots’ ability to improve the social, physical and emotional well-being of older adults living with memory loss.

“Our collaboration with the Consumer Technology Association Foundation not only demonstrates the importance of technological innovation, but also embodies our network’s shared commitment to addressing the pressing issue of social isolation through thoughtful, person-centered care,” said Alesia Frerichs, president and CEO of Lutheran Services in America. “We are leveraging cutting-edge technology to enhance the well-being of older adults in our communities.”

“This program represents a bold step forward in leveraging technology to address the complex challenges facing older adults,” said Jeff Heinecke, president and CEO of Lyngblomsten. “At Lyngblomsten, we recognize the profound importance of social engagement in promoting health and well-being. By harnessing the power of robotics, we are creating opportunities for meaningful interactions and enriching experiences for our residents.”

The grant, which runs through May 2025, continues the joint effort between Lutheran Services in America and the CTA Foundation to address social isolation through technology; funding in 2023 allowed 100 older adults with mobility and cognitive challenges and their caregivers at Lutheran Senior Services communities to connect with the outside world using virtual reality devices. This followed previous partnerships to increase access to telehealth and cognitive tools for low-income older adults with mobility and physical impairments, provide technological devices like Google Glass and Apple iPads to caregivers of older adults and people with dementia, and expand services to support caregivers with their ability to offer quality care to older adults in rural communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine estimates that nearly one in four older adults is socially isolated. Loneliness can increase the risk of mortality by up to 50 percent — higher than the effects of air pollution, obesity, and excessive alcohol use. Lutheran social ministries have a deep history of addressing this challenge by providing person-centered care to communities across the country.

About Lutheran Services in America
Lutheran Services in America is one of the nation’s largest national networks of health and human service providers with a mission to cultivate caring communities that advance health and opportunity for all. With 300 nonprofit organizations across 1,400 U.S. communities and more than $26 billion in combined annual services, the Lutheran Services in America network advances equitable outcomes for children, youth and families, improves independence and choice for older adults, champions meaningful services and support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and strengthens stability and purpose for veterans, refugees, new Americans and other special populations. Formed in 1997, Lutheran Services in America brings together a network of leaders, partners and funders to catalyze innovation, strengthen organizational capacity and advance public policy.

To learn more, visit lutheranservices.org or find us on Facebook, LinkedIn and X.

About Lyngblomsten
Incorporated in 1906, Lyngblomsten is a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization enhancing the quality of life for older adults through its healthcare and housing facilities and its community-based outreach programs. Affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Lyngblomsten serves older adults of all faiths and cultures. Learn more at www.lyngblomsten.org or find us on Facebook or LinkedIn.

About the Consumer Technology Association Foundation
Launched in 2012, the CTA Foundation is a public, national foundation dedicated to connecting people with disabilities and older adults to technologies that enhance their lives. To date, it has provided over $7.3 million in support to non-profit organizations across the United States, improving the quality of life for these communities. Find out how you can support at www.CTAFoundation.tech.