Equul Access Amanda (copy)

The Southwest Initiative Foundation recently awarded eight grants totaling $275,960 to support Age-Friendly Community projects in southwest Minnesota. These grants coincide with their Creating Age-Friendly Communities Report, released earlier this year, which assesses the needs of residents 55 or older in the region and identifies potential strategies specific to supporting aging residents.

One of the organizations receiving a grant was Hutchinson-based Equul Access Inc. The grant is for combating caregiver compassion fatigue through equine-facilitated learning and research.

“As a growing number of baby boomers enter retirement, it is important that southwest Minnesota has the necessary supports in place to make sure that our residents can lead healthy, vibrant lives in their own homes and communities,” said Nancy Fasching, community impact director for Hutchinson-based Southwest.

SWIF originally announced a $100,000 grant would be available but chose to fund additional projects based on quality of applications and available resources.

Authored by Wilder Research, a division of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, Southwest’s Creating Age-Friendly Communities report found that 19 percent of residents in southwest Minnesota are age 65 or older, 5 percent higher than the state average. More than 25 percent of these residents live alone, which can lead to isolation and difficulty accessing services, a problem compounded for aging residents by various factors in rural areas, including living on farms.