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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published Aug. 19, 2010                                                    

Aging Well builds networks
to serve seniors

By Pamela Lannom
plannom@thehinsdalean.com

   Aging Well is a prime example of the kind of cooperative effort that Community Memorial Foundation strives to encourage.
   “It is a unique program,” said Ken Grunke, director of philanthropy and external affairs for Aging Care Connections. “It does bring together like-minded businesses, organizations, agencies, even community individuals who are interested in addressing aging issues and ultimately helping to build an elder-friendly community.”
   Aging Well, which became a program of Aging Care Connections May 1, was established in 2001. In 2004, it received a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop an 18-month strategic plan for expanding and enhancing long-term care and supportive services to older adults.
   In 2006, Aging Well received additional funding from the foundation to implement the plan. It was one of only 16 partnerships nationwide to receive this funding. Aging Well also receives support from Community Memorial Foundation and Lyons Township.
   Grunke said he’s impressed that so many of the 130 organizations that got involved with Aging Well in the beginning are still part of the effort.
   “Right now, eight years later, we have about 100 of them still with us,” he said. “I think that says a lot about the community as a whole. There is a lot of interest in the community to address aging issues. More importantly, there are a lot of resources already in our community to address aging issues.”
   One of the challenges has been to disseminate information about those resources to the seniors and caregivers who need them. That’s where the local community action teams come in.
   “They have been the lifeblood, they have been the footsoldiers of the program,” Grunke said.
   Gina Hassett, director of parks and recreation for the
village of Hinsdale, and Jo Ann Schusterich, reference librarian for the Hinsdale Public Library, lead the Hinsdale-Burr Ridge team. One of their newer initiatives is a biannual Ask an Expert session for seniors and their caregivers. In the spring, the session focused on senior scams and general health. The fall session, which is slated for Tuesday, Oct. 26, at The Community House, will provide information on retirement planning, home care options and senior residential communities.
   “Every community has different issues for seniors,” Hassett said. “For us, one of the issues in town is there is not a lot of senior housing.”
   The team also developed a senior aging guide that lists local services that might come in handy for seniors. The guide was distributed in a local newspaper and is available at village hall, 19 E. Chicago Ave., on the village’s website at www.villageofhinsdale.org and on the library’s website at www.hinsdalelibrary.info. It also will be handed out at the Oct. 26 Ask the Expert session.
   “Our goal is to make sure it doesn’t get out of date and that the material is fresh for everyone,” Hassett said.
   The Hinsdale-Burr Ridge team is one of 14 teams in the greater Lyons Township area, each of which has 15 to 30 members, Grunke said.
   “To have these groups continue their work and to continue to be active in their own communities around aging, I think that says a lot about these groups and I think that says a lot about the interest the community has in wanting to talk about these issues and how they affect their own communities,” he said.
   The groups will continue to be important as Aging Well proceeds without the support of the Johnson grant.
   “I think one of our challenges now that the funding has changed is challenging the C.A.T.s and even some of our partners to take more of a leadership role in helping to address issues,” Grunke said. “We’re hoping some of the partners will be inspired and feel compelled to continue working on certain areas or projects they feel passionate about.”
   Volunteers will need to work with less staff support. A full-time person used to oversee the teams, but now that position is only part time.
   “We’ve asked them to look what’s inside their teams, find new leaders, find ways in which they can continue their work with limited support,” Grunke said.
   Hassett said her team would welcome more senior members from the community.
   “We’d love to have them come,” she said. “We’re a pretty laid back group, and just looking to get people to join who would offer some topics and things of that nature.
   “You don’t have to live in Cook County to be part of the organization or part of the services,” she added.

 

— Making a difference is a yearlong partnership between The Hinsdalean
and Community Memorial Foundation, whose mission is to measurably improve
the health of people work live and work in the western suburbs.

 

 

 

 

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