Madison County, others to launch Office on Aging to link older adults with resources

EDWARDSVILLE – Madison County Community Development is partnering with the AARP Foundation and numerous other community organizations to establish the Madison County Office on Aging, a department designed to serve as a lead advocate for senior citizens.

Madison County Board Chairman Alan J. Dunstan said the overall goal of the program is to create a positive environment for aging in the county.

“The goal of the Madison County Office on Aging is to help seniors in Madison County age with dignity and with the support they need and deserve,” Dunstan said. “The Office on Aging will take on this task on individual and policy levels by working to connect older residents with resources, as well as working with local partners and governments to advocate for seniors’ needs.”

The Madison County Office on Aging will place increased emphasis on those seniors who are hard to reach or underrepresented in Madison County. Dunstan said the effort’s core leadership has identified this outreach as a problem area in Madison County.

“Service delivery and availability for older adults has been cited as a continued problem in the county. The Office on Aging will work to close these gaps and reach out to those on the fringes, serving as a connecting agent for missing services for older residents,” Dunstan said. “This office will be charged with understanding the needs of Madison County’s older adults and working to utilize available funds and programming to meet those needs.”

Madison County Office on Aging staff has begun establishing benefits connection centers, localized places for seniors to seek and be connected with resources. As these centers begin appearing in the county, staff will provide information and connection to services for Madison County’s older adults and their caregivers. The office will maintain a resource and program database as well as a referral network to serve as a centralized location to connect seniors to available resources at the local, state and federal levels.

The staff will be comprised of representatives from Madison County Community Development, the AARP Foundation and other partnering community organizations. The Office on Aging will also utilize “super volunteers,” individuals who are 55 and older and placed at the community buildings where the benefits connection centers are located. These individuals will be trained to provide information to seniors and connect them to available resources. The emphasis on 55-and-up volunteers serves to encourage older adults to help each other, strengthening their communities and senior support network.

Along with individual-level connector services, the Madison County Office on Aging will direct or participate in coalitions and projects to promote or create new ideas, services and legislation to support Madison County’s older adults. It will also work for a more supportive stance for those in the senior services industry.

In addition to Madison County Community Development and the AARP Foundation, the following organizations and agencies are partnering to form the Madison County Office on Aging: Madison County Health Department, Madison County Mental Health Board, Senior Services Plus, Care Management Professionals, LLC, St. John’s Community Care, AgeSmart Community Resources, Southwest Illinois Visiting Nurse Association, IMPACT CIL, Collinsville Faith in Action, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Edwardsville Township.

— From the Illinois Business Journal

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