Social Connection Initiatives
Loneliness and social isolation are major issues for older adults and are linked with negative physical and mental health consequences. The Illinois Department on Aging and AgeGuide are working in collaboration with other community-based providers to address social isolation among older adultsthroughout the region and to provide programs and services that increase social connection.
AgeGuide is Addressing Social Isolationby funding and supporting the following programs and services:
Regular visits by volunteers that are focused on developing a friendship and engaging in enjoyable and purposeful activities together
Phone calls that provide a friendly chat, a security check and informal assistance
Education and Technology:
AgeGuide has expanded its technology related programming to further close the digital divide and increased offerings to reduce social isolation. The Tablet to Seniors special project provides tablets to older adults who agree to attend computer classes so they can learn to use technology to connect with their family, friends, and community resources.
Good Memories Choir Program & Sing along Memory Cafes:
AgeGuide collaborates with the Good Memories Choir LLC to address the needs of persons with dementia and caregivers who are at risk of social isolation through two different music programs, both of which are designed to offer a safe, welcoming and mentally stimulating virtual environment for the caregiver and their loved one to enjoy music together with others.
Inclusive Community Initiatives
Build Dementia Friendly Communities with AgeGuide:
AgeGuide has received national recognition from Dementia Friendly America for the development of two Dementia Friendly communities: Kankakee County and North Chicago in Lake County. Inspired by these successful initiatives, AgeGuide continues to collaborate with community partners throughout our region to
- Develop Dementia Friendly Business Sector Training presentations that can now be accessed through the AgeGuide Learning Channel
- Implement Tales and Travels Memories Library Program and Memory Cafés in various communities
- Develop Dementia Friendly communities including Elgin, Westmont, Oswego, St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, Highland Park and Naperville that are recognized nationally as Dementia Friendly Communities
Targeted Outreach to Limited English-Speaking Older adults:
This special project is a partnership with the Coalition of Limited English-Speaking Elderly (CLESE) to conduct region-wide targeted outreach activities to Limited English Speaking (LES) older adults and family caregivers to increase their access to Older Americans Act services and other community services and supports.
Supporting Ethnic and Culturally Diverse Populations:
AgeGuide continued to engage efforts to support ethnic and culturally diverse populations including Limited English-speaking (LES) older adults and family caregivers and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-gender conforming, and queer (LGBTQ+) older adults and family caregivers to help them feel supported and to reduce barriers to accessing services.
AgeGuide Learning Center:
An educational resource for aging service providers, the business community, first responders, health care professionals, faith communities, older adults and caregivers. The AgeGuide Learning center offers on-line courses and webinars to educate on practical tools, resources, and information to guide people on their aging journey. Current resources available to the public include Dementia Friendly Business Sector Trainings and “Medicare How To” videos in multiple languages.
Digital Equity and Inclusion:
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and in the aftermath, there remains a significant discrepancy within the older adult population to be connected to the internet. While 60% of persons aged 65+ are connected to the internet, the other 40% are not and this can lead to poorer health outcomes, increased social isolation, and a decreased quality of life. AgeGuide intends to assist in bridging the digital divide, leveraging successes in previous and current technology programs to improve Digital Equity and Inclusion for older adults. AgeGuide will offer technology training and education based on an individuals’ needs and capacities, utilize multiple resources for education including, on-line, in-person, intergenerational volunteers and more. AgeGuide will strengthen the educational network in the region by helping to identifying technology needs and collaborating with community partners to develop content and programs to meet service gaps. In addition, AgeGuide will advocate for expanding internet access among older adults by participating in the statewide Digital Inclusion initiatives and efforts that seek to expand availability and reach of technology to older adults.
Family Caregiver Outreach & Support:
AgeGuide will address the Family Caregiver Outreach and support by implementing an outreach plan to help caregivers self-identify as caregivers early on in their caregiving journey. AgeGuide will continue to collaborate with IDoA and the NASHP State Medicaid Policy Institute on Family Caregiving to work toward expanding Medicaid Waivers to include support for caregivers in addition to collaborating with Managed Care Organizations to encourage enhanced caregiver support. AgeGuide will work with state legislators, our funded service providers, community partners, caregivers, and stakeholders to provide outreach and promotion of family caregiver policy and programming.