PEARLS Booster Program Receives Grant

The Mardag Foundation met recently and approved a grant of $15,000 to JFS for the PEARLS (Program to Encourage Active and Rewarding Lives in Seniors) Booster program. The Foundation provides grants to programs that support older adults across Minnesota who lack access or have barriers to critical opportunities to thrive and create community connections.

The PEARLS Booster program is a refresher series of sessions offered to PEARLS graduates to help them cope with the isolation and other challenges resulting from the COVID crisis. It supports older adults and caregivers who have completed PEARLS. The booster program consists of four remote sessions available as either 15-minute check-ins or full 60-minute sessions.

JFS has been offering PEARLS since 2015. An evidence-based program, it uses a structured approach to alleviate depression in older adults. Over a series of eight sessions, counselors offer support and monitor progress towards successful outcomes. PEARLS empowers older adults and caregivers to manage their depression through setting goals and following through with participation in chosen activities.

JFS worked with Dr. Joseph Gaugler and Dr. Tetyana Shippee of the University of Minnesota’s Center on Aging to research the effectiveness of the PEARLS intervention. During each session, participants are administered the PhQ-9 to assess for indicators of depression. Overall, the program shows positive effect in remission of depression (defined as reaching a score of below five on PhQ-9) and treatment response (greater than 50 percent reduction), which are common clinical targets for depression treatment.