Aging Care Connections opposes the Governor's proposed FY2016 Aging budget
Aging Care Connections stands united with the Illinois Council of Case Coordination Units, AARP, and the Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging in opposition to the Governor's proposed FY2016 Aging budget and the otherwise preventable suffering of our elderly citizens it will cause if enacted. Read Our Statement of Opposition to Proposed FY2016 Aging Budget in Illinois
Time to Make Your Voice Heard
Fifty years ago, the stroke of a pen made unprecedented history for older Americans and their families. But 50 years later, that precedent and those it benefits are in jeopardy.
The pen was held by President Lyndon Johnson and the document he signed on July 14, 1965 was the Older Americans Act (OAA), which set objectives for maintaining the dignity and welfare of older adults and their families. The Act provides funding for home-delivered and congregate meals, caregiver support, preventive health services, transportation, job training, and elder abuse prevention.
For more than 40 of those 50 years, Aging Care Connections (ACC) has partnered with AgeOptions to provide Older Americans Act programs to tens of thousands of individuals and their families; significantly improving their quality of life.
"The Older Americans Act helped us get established in the 1970s", said Debra Verschelde, Executive Director of ACC. "And it is still here today to help older adults maintain independence in the community. To me, it is the cornerstone of so much of our work with older adults and families."
Several of ACC's federally funded programs benefit directly from the OAA. These include ACC's Congregate Dining Program at Salerno's Pizzeria and Sports Bar, the Caregiver Support Program, Chore Housekeeping, Home Delivered Meals, Information and Assistance, and Transportation.
These are services older adults and their families can access to continue living independently in their communities.
"Every day Aging Care Connections sees the real need for support to older adults and their families; we see clients who struggle with chronic illness, with financial issues and emotional problems. We have also seen waiting lists for services and cuts to needed programs across the board. Looking back on the accomplishments of the Older Americans Act in increasing nutrition, in-home support programs and transportation is especially poignant during this time of uncertainty," said Louise Starmann, ACC's Director of Social Services.
The fact is the OAA has not been reauthorized since 2011. The U.S. Senate passed the reauthorization of the OAA in July 2015, but the Act has not yet passed the U.S. House of Representatives. Its reauthorization is scheduled to be reviewed when the House reconvenes following its August recess. Compounding the issue for local older adults and service providers like ACC is the current budget impasse in the State of Illinois, which has already resulted in significant budget cuts to programs for older adults, including nutrition-based programs.
"In the spirit of the Older Americans Act, we need to make our voices heard," said Starmann. "Consider raising your voice to our State legislators and our Governor to sustain the elders in our community by settling the budget impasse and funding the support services that allow the older adults in our community to safely remain in their homes."
Aging Care Connections is the local community agency for OAA programming, as well as Social Security and Medicare. ACC also provides its clients and supporters with information and news regarding government funding and policy issues that affect the lives of older adults and their families.
ACC asks for the help of its clients and supporters to keep these services available to those in need. As the Older Americans Act improved the lives of older adults and their caregivers 50 years ago, there is no time like the present to help shape and improve the future.
The Congregate Meals program serves older adults (aged 60 and older) with a nutritious lunchtime meal for a suggested donation of $2.00. Meals are served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.at Salerno's Pizzeria and Sports Bar, 9301 W 63rd St, Hodgkins, 708-354-0099. View the April menu.
Candace Zanon receives a certificate of appreciation for her volunteer service
Aging Care Connections' volunteer Candace Zanon of Burr Ridge was honored recently at AgeOptions, the Area Agency on Aging of Suburban Cook County, 40th Annual Volunteer Luncheon held Thursday, June 19 at the William Tell Holiday Inn, Countryside. The purpose of the Annual Luncheon is to express appreciation to the volunteers and the community agencies that assist older persons throughout the year.
Ms. Zanon worked for 25 years in long-term care as a nursing home administrator. Her experience provides an excellent background for the many responsibilities she has at Aging Care Connections. She began as a benefits volunteer counseling seniors about benefits for which they may qualify. She became a volunteer for the Sports Ball Benefit Gala Planning Committee soliciting sponsorships, donations and auction items for the event. Eventually, she was trained in and presented "Take Charge of Your Health" and "Take Charge of Your Diabetes" programs. Currently, Ms. Zanon is also working with Aging Care Connections' Aging Resource Center calling older adults who are transitioning back home from a hospital or skilled nursing facility stay 30 days after discharge. She makes certain that these clients receive appropriate community resources allowing them to remain at home safely.
In her spare time, Candace is an avid gardener and runner. She is the proud mother of three sons and grandmother of five.
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Twenty-nine community members from across the western suburbs are now certified instructors in Mental Health First Aid. MHFA has gained popularity in the United States over the last decade as professionals have recognized the need to identify and address symptoms of mental illness as they occur in everyday situations.
"Much like training instructors in CPR or first aid, the program certifies participants to train the public to identify, understand and respond to symptoms of mental illness," said Greg DiDomenico, President/CEO of Community Memorial Foundation, one of the partners bringing the training to the local community.
Joint funders of the effort with Community Memorial Foundation are The Rotary Club of La Grange, Lyons Township Mental Health Commission, and Proviso Township Mental Health Commission. Over the next year, the certified instructors will provide at least 45 trainings for local human services providers, first responders, health providers, faith-based organizations, educators and
Mental Health First Aid is a program of the National Council on Behavioral Health and addresses the growing need for mental health services in our region by strengthening the mental health and well-being of our communities, decreasing the stigma associated with mental illness, and providing awareness of local mental health resources.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in four adults in the U.S. experience a mental health disorder in a given year. One in 17 people live with a serious mental illness such as major depression or bipolar disorder. Anxiety disorders affect about 18.7 percent of adults. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24. Fewer than one-third of adults and one-half of children with a diagnosable mental disorder receive mental health services in a given year.
If you are interested in having a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor provide an eight-hour training (one full-day or two half-days) to a local group, contact Gale Christoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-654-4729. There is no cost for training or the materials. Spanish-speaking instructors and materials are also available.
We’ve all heard that friends should avoid conversations about politics and religion. “We bend that rule a little bit,” said Bill Harlander of Brookfield, a member of Friday Morning Regulars, a men’s group that meets every Friday morning at St. Barbara’s Parish Center in Brookfield to discuss anything and everything over doughnuts and coffee.
For more years than its members can recall, the group has met to discuss the week’s events in the world, close to home and in their own lives. “It’s the one thing I do every week, without fail,” said Jay Sommerfield of La Grange. At 69, he’s a youngster in the group.
Bill Harlander of Brookfield (right) keeps the conversation moving with his “it’s complicated” sign, as the group’s most senior member, Robert Marshall, listens to the discussion.
Friday Morning Regulars got its start at Aging Care Connections in La Grange more than 15 years ago. Jim Matthews of La Grange, facilitator of the group, said a psychology student who was working at Aging Care Connections wanted to provide an opportunity for men to talk about their own health, issues of aging, and whatever else was brought to the table. “My wife has all kinds of groups she belongs to,” Sommerfield said. The Friday group gives him a chance to spend time with friends, too.
Each member of the group comes with a topic to add to the day’s conversation. At a recent meeting the men tackled the issues of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia, whether premium gas is worth the extra money, and the Illinois governor’s race, just to name a few. Another recent discussion tackled the question, “Which is more dangerous – lightning or sharks?”
“It keeps me up-to-date,” Harlander said of the weekly conversations. Some members lean right, while others consider themselves liberal. Some are widowers, while others consider the weekly meeting a type of respite¬- for their wives. With so many opinions, backgrounds and viewpoints, some subjects never reach a resolution. That’s when Harlander raises his “it’s complicated” sign, which serves as a signal that it’s time to change the subject. Sometimes, Harlander said, that’s the only answer.
Like the name says, David Schultz of Lyons (left) and Chuck Meyer of LaGrange are regulars at the Friday Morning Regulars meetings.
Amidst plenty of good-humored ribbing, the men consider one another friends. They check in on each other when a member is sick and keep that member’s chair free until he is well enough to return. The group’s mission statement proves that Friday Morning Regulars is about more than a weekly chat over coffee and doughnuts: “Our goal is to listen, to encourage, to care, to comfort, to understand and to practice living happier, healthier, longer, independent, rewarding and motivated lives.”
Bill Wilhite of Brookfield said joining the Friday morning men’s group is the best thing he’s done for himself in years.
About 10 men typically gather at each Friday morning, but there is room around the table for many more. A weekly donation of $2 pays for doughnuts and coffee, and the men occasionally take up a collection for a local cause, such as St. Barbara’s or Aging Care Connections.
To join in on the conversation, just show up at the parish center, 4008 Prairie Avenue (east side of street). Meetings are from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. For more information, call Aging Care Connections at (708) 354-1323. View the Press Release.
Aging Care Connections celebrated the successful completion of its capital and program campaign initiative, Leading the commitment to aging well, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and receptions for the Lee M. Burkey, Sr. Society, the major giving program, and the community held Thursday, November 21 at the building now known as Aging Care Connections at the Burkey Family Center, 111 W Harris Ave, La Grange.
More than $1,200,000 in funds has been raised for much-needed refurbishing of existing facilities, specifically allowing for stricter compliance to ADA standards, as well as to expand programs to meet the increasing needs of older adults in the community.
At the Lee M. Burkey, Sr. Society reception, Lee Burkey, Jr. spoke about Aging Care Connections as a crucial community resource available to all. His father, Lee M. Burkey, Sr., who served as a Trustee of the Village of LaGrange from 1962 to 1968, Village President from 1968 to 1973 and Village Attorney from 1973 to 1987, was a member of the Aging Care Connections Board of Directors who inaugurated the $500 Club to ensure that aging services would be available to all who needed them.
Later in the afternoon, at a reception for the community, State Senator Christine Radogno spoke about the initiative she helped to launch through a State of Illinois lead grant of $200,000. The campaign involved raising the remaining funds required to ensure a more efficient, safer and functional facility to serve the growing number of older adults and families who depend on Aging Care Connections’ programs and services.
Tours of the building showcased a facility better-positioned to serve older adults and more-effectively configured to provide help to seniors expediently and comfortably. Successful completion of the initiative enhances Aging Care Connections’ position as a robust, vital organization continuing its 42-year history directed to ensuring the well-being and safety of older adults in the community. top of page
Board member Lee Burkey, Jr. addresses guests at the ribbon cutting celebrating Aging Care Connections at the Burkey Family Center.
Celebrating Aging Care Connections at The Burkey Family Center are (from left): Jerry Burjan, Board member and Chair of the Capital and Program Campaign; Bill Wilson, President, Board of Directors; Debra Verschelde, Executive Director; Lee Burkey, Jr., Board member; John Burns, Village Clerk, Village of La Grange.
State Senator Christine Radogno speaks to guests at the community reception.
Jerry Burjan, Board member and Chair of the Capital and Program Campaign; State Senator Radogno and Debbie Verschelde, Executive Director, acknowledge the success of the campaign.
Photos courtesy of Glenn Kaupert Photography
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