Published Aug. 19, 2010
Aging Well builds networks
to serve seniors
By Pamela Lannom
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
“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
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
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
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,”
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
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
“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
Community Memorial Foundation, whose mission is to
the health of people work live and
work in the western suburbs.