FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Januari Smith
Phone: 1-217-558-1544, Cell: 1-217-725-8212
January 24, 2006
Delegates from Illinois to guide public policy for aging
SPRINGFIELD Families in Illinois and across the nation will be affected by policy proposed by delegates to the White House Conference on Aging held in December 2005 in Washington, D.C., and a state agency promises to report the proposals to families across the state.
Forty Illinoisans, led by Illinois Department on Aging Director Charles D. Johnson, were among the 1,200 delegates to the Conference, which is held once every 10 years to recommend national policy about issues that affect older people and their families. To prepare for the increase in numbers of older adults as the large "baby boom" age group of 78 million begins to retire, the Conference made 50 recommendations for public policy to accommodate the expected increased demand for services. Director Johnson said his department and the state’s aging network will work together to report on the policy recommendations to communities throughout the state.
After making policy recommendations, delegates met January 30, 2006, to develop plans to implement the guides they developed.
- The first recommendation is the continuation of the Older Americans Act, the federal legislation that provides funds for services through the Illinois Department on Aging and the 13 area agencies on aging. These services include home-delivered meals, adult protective services, legal assistance, employment assistance, nursing-home ombudsman and transportation.
- The second policy recommendation is the development of a strategy for long-term care that includes choice of care in the community, as well as assurance of quality and service for disabled and frail people who need supportive services. This recommendation mirrors a goal set in Illinois by Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and the General Assembly and the Older Adults Service Act passed in 2003. The state effort is aimed at securing care in the community for those people who prefer not to live in an institution.
- Voted third in importance is assurance of availability of transportation options, an issue delegates linked to mobility and independence for both rural and urban seniors.
Other issues ranked by delegates among the top 10 in importance are, in order:
- Strengthen and improve Medicaid, the federal-state program that pays for the health-care for the poor of all ages,
- Strengthen and improve Medicare, the health-care insurance for seniors and people with disabilities,
- Support for geriatric education and training for all healthcare professionals,
- Promotion of innovative models of non-institutional long-term care,
- Improvement in the recognition, assessment and treatment of mental illness and depression among Older Americans,
- Selection of adequate numbers of health-care personnel who are skilled, culturally competent and who have specialized training in geriatrics, and
- Improvement of delivery of services at both the state and local level to meet the needs of seniors in the 21st Century. Delegates called for new funds to help communities prepare for the increase in the number of seniors during the next 10 years.
Illinois delegates will present all 50 resolutions to the President and Congress by June 2006. "I was proud to chair the Illinois delegation of experts that offered a thoughtful blueprint for policy that will affect the lives of older adults for the next decade," Director Johnson said.
"Delegates considered present needs, current realities and demographic projections in developing this model of good public policy," he said. "We believe that our goals are practical, our recommendations are in the best interest of most Americans and our hopes are attainable with the support of the governors and the U.S. Congress."
Johnson said speakers from the Department on Aging are available to discuss the 2005 White House Conference on Aging and the resolutions made by its delegates to groups throughout the state. To schedule a meeting, requests may be made to Cathy Houghtby.
The remaining resolutions are:
- Provide economic incentives and policy change to encourage and facilitate increased retirement savings,
- Establish principles to strengthen Social Security,
- Foster innovations in financing long-term-care services to increase available choices,
- Strengthen law enforcement at federal, state and local levels to investigate and prosecute elder financial crime,
- Modernize the Supplemental Security Income Program,
- Strengthen the Social Security Disability Insurance Program,
- Remove barriers to the retention and hiring of older workers,
- Promote incentive for older workers to continue working and improve employment training and re-training programs to better serve older workers,
- Expand opportunities for developing innovative housing designs for seniors,
- Encourage re-design of senior centers for broad appeal and community participation,
- Reauthorize the Older Americans Act by June 2006,
- Encourage community designs to promote livable communities that enable aging in place,
- Create a national strategy for promoting elder justice through prevention and prosecution of elder abuse,
- Develop a coordinated federal, state and local emergency response plan for seniors in the event of public health emergencies or disasters,
- Support older adult caregivers raising their relatives’ children
- Promote economic development policies that respond to the unique needs of rural seniors,
- Enhance the availability of housing for older Americans,
- Enhance the affordability of housing for older Americans,
- Promote enrollment of seniors into the Medicare Prescription Drug Program,
- Apply evidence-based research to the delivery of health and social services where appropriate,
- Evaluate payment and coordination policies in the geriatric healthcare continuum,
- Develop a national strategy for supporting informal caregivers of seniors,
- Improve the health and quality of life of older Americans through disease management and chronic care coordination,
- Prevent disease and promote healthier lifestyles through education,
- Ensure appropriate recognition and care for veterans across all healthcare settings,
- Promote the importance of nutrition in health promotion and disease prevention and management,
- Improve health-decision making through promotion of health education, health literacy and cultural competency,
- Ensure appropriate care for seniors with disabilities,
- Reduce healthcare disparities among minorities by developing strategies to prevent disease, promote health and deliver appropriate care and wellness,
- Encourage appropriate sharing of healthcare information across multiple management systems,
- Educate Americans on end-of-life issues,
- Improve access to care for older adults living in rural areas
- Improve patient advocacy in all care settings,
- Develop a national strategy for promoting new and meaningful volunteer activities and civic engagements for current and future seniors,
- Reauthorize the National and Community Service Act to expand opportunities for volunteer activities,
- Promote the integration of health and aging services to improve access and quality of care,
- Develop incentive to encourage the expansion of appropriate use of health-information technology,
- Implement plan for accountability to sustain the momentum of the 2005 White House Conference resolutions, and
- review alignment of government programs that deliver services to older Americans.
For more information, contact the Illinois Department on Aging's Senior HelpLine.
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