Illinois Aging Network Alert
August 03, 2020

ISSUE: Importance of Flu Vaccine – Reduce Hospitalizations

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season is from October to April. As flu season approaches flu vaccine manufacturers are boosting production. The CDC has ordered 14 times the doses it typically purchases. Getting a flu shot doesn’t protect against coronavirus but even a moderately effective flu vaccine can mitigate the severe symptoms and potentially reduce hospitalizations. Fewer than half of Americans get a flu shot even though a vaccine is recommended for everyone over 6 months old.

Older Adults can face severe complications from the flu. The human immune defense weakens as we age. Flu is much more serious for older adults and it is very important that they get a flu shot. According to the CDC, an estimated 70%-85% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older, and between 50%-70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in this age group. People with chronic illnesses can also face serious complications from the flu. As coronavirus cases continue to rise there is a deep concern that older adults will not venture out to get their flu shots. Not only is this a concern for the older adult, but fewer flu cases can reduce the need for hospital space that is needed to combat COVID19.

Getting a flu shot is the responsible thing to do and can help reduce the transmission to other not just an older relative but others a person may encounter in the community. This year the flu vaccine is even more critical and can help our state get through the fall and combat the need for more hospital space.

As a leader we ask that the state help raise awareness and assist our already struggling health departments get the message out to get a flu shot!

Today’s Alert courtesy of AgeSmart. Questions? Contact Susan C. Real, Legislative Chair at 309-829-2065 ext. 1218



Illinois Aging Network Alert
July 20, 2020

ISSUE: Reliable and Affordable Internet

I4A recognizes the importance of reliable and affordable internet connections for Illinois citizens. Connectivity has become even more important in light of COVID-19 restrictions and their enduring impact on engaging with other people. Seniors found themselves at the eye of the storm: at great risk for contracting severe coronavirus illness and cut off from critical everyday social interactions outside the home. Internet access, where available, mediated the risk of complete social isolation by giving seniors an opportunity to connect loved ones, participate in virtual educational and recreational activities, telehealth services, faith-based services, and more. Unfortunately, access is not universal. Residents of urban and rural areas are affected. Barriers to connectivity include lack of infrastructure, limited investment in lower-income neighborhoods and rural areas, and even reliable access to basic telecommunications service (landline and mobile).

The CONNECT ILLINOIS initiative is designed to expand broadband access across the entire state. Increasing access and reliable service to historically underserved areas will benefit seniors and entire communities by:

  • Equalizing access to internet-based communication for all citizens
  • Supporting schools striving to provide virtual education
  • Sustaining small businesses as they diversify their service delivery options
  • Improving telehealth services for community healthcare providers and patients
  • Enhancing First Responder operations
  • Creating opportunities for aging network partners to build capacity and better engage our audiences
  • Increasing accessibility to services for people whose geographic location, mobility issues, etc. may affect their ability to access supports
  • Demonstrating our commitment to family caregiver services and supports
  • Reducing social isolation among vulnerable populations

Furthermore, investment in infrastructure and expansion of free/low-cost broadband service will enable lower-income individuals and families to participate in our increasingly internet-driven economy.

Please help Illinois become a leader in technology and broadband access for its citizens by supporting the CONNECT ILLINOIS statewide initiative.

Today’s Alert courtesy of West Central Illinois AAA. Questions? Contact Susan C. Real, Legislative Chair at 309-829-2065 ext. 1218



Illinois Aging Network Alert
July 08, 2020


On June 26, 2020, Illinois moved into Phase 4: Revitalization of the Restore Illinois COVID-19 Recovery Plan. Phase 4 will now allow gatherings of 50 people or fewer. Phase 4 will allow the reopening of senior centers, daycare centers, restaurants and bars - all under the guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Face coverings and social distancing are required.

I4A has joined a new coalition of health, labor, aging, and public interest organizations -- “Open Safe Illinois.” We support the principles set forth by the coalition, most specifically, the following:

  • Some communities, particularly communities of color, have experienced disproportionate health and economic impacts, and that frontline workers are facing higher levels of risk.
  • Illinois must follow the science first and foremost in all reopening decisions. Elected officials must listen to public health experts first and foremost, and heed their guidance, even if it means more short-term disruption.
  • We want to return to normal, but not at the expense of the health and safety of our friends, families, and communities.
  • We want a healthy economy, but know if we open too quickly, or don’t have plans to adjust if spread recurs, the virus will surge again, forcing a return to more restrictive public health measures.
  • We want things to go back to normal, but we acknowledge it may take some time before we get there. However, the decisions made today can have enormous consequences for the safety of millions of Illinoisans and the long-term impact of the virus.

OUR ASK! We ask that our elected leaders heed this call for science-backed decision making as we move forward, and we encourage all Illinoisans to join us!

Today’s Alert courtesy of ECIAAA. For more information, contact Susan C. Real, Legislative Chair at 309-829-2065 ext. 1218



Illinois Aging Network Alert
June 19, 2020

ISSUE: Social Isolation and Loneliness Among Seniors in Their Homes During This Pandemic

As stay-at-home recommendations continue in many cities across the country, and social distancing becomes our only way of interacting, the focus on social isolation and loneliness is becoming part of the new normal. Seniors are socially isolated and unable to connect with family and loved ones. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these conditions have increased the risk for certain physical and mental health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and more.

A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) points out that more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.1 Older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation because they are more likely to face factors such as living alone, the loss of family or friends, chronic illness, and hearing loss.

Recent studies found that:

  • Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.1
  • Social isolation was associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia.1
  • Poor social relationships (characterized by social isolation or loneliness) was associated with a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.1

According to a Chicago Tribune article, older adults report added anxiety tied to recent lootings which has exacerbated the effects of social isolation.

Area Agencies on Aging have established a variety of programs to address social isolation among older Illinoisans.  These programs have proved effective and are needed now more than ever. 

Our Ask:  Illinois lawmakers must continue to support Area Agencies on Aging serving vulnerable isolated older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults: Opportunities for the Health Care System. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Today’s I4A Alert courtesy of Central Illinois Agency on Aging.  For more information, contact Susan C. Real at 309-829-2065 ext. 1218

Illinois Aging Network Alert June 05, 2020


Illinois Aging Network Alert
June 05, 2020

ISSUE: Area Agencies on Aging Home Delivered Meals Programs Meeting the Needs of Older Adults during COVID-19 pandemic emergency

Older adults face higher risks of contracting COVID-19 and/or experiencing complications, particularly if they also have chronic medical conditions. All Illinois older adults were urged to remain at home during this pandemic emergency. Every home delivered meal provider is experiencing a new wave of older adults in need of nutritious meals. Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly and the governors of Illinois have recognized the importance of providing nutritious meals to older adults who are homebound by increasing state funding for this important program.  Thank you for recognizing and addressing this need.

All Home Delivered meal agencies in Illinois accepted this challenge, they built a whole new delivery system with the foundation being the safety of participants, the basic nutritional needs of older adults and the safety of their employees. They found solutions to many logistical problems to safely deliver meals to an at-risk population while expanding the number of older adults served and the number of meals served. More volunteers are being utilized, routes have increased in rural areas, and more safety measures were put in place. As face to face contact with participants could not be maintained due to COVID-19 daily contact by phone was adopted to assure older adults have one friendly caller regularly. 

Statistics show how quickly Home Delivered Meal Providers built a new delivery system that safely serves more older adults’ nutritious meals:

From March 30 to June 2, 2020, the Illinois AAAs hav

  • Delivered 2,042,837 home delivered meals (+ 53% since April)
  • Received 10,274 new referrals for clients needing meals
  • Provided 259,212 shelf stable meals to older adults across the state (Source: IDOA COVID-19 Daily Meal Report)

Area Agencies on Aging are proud to partner with all Illinois Home Delivered Meal providers! You are our heroes!  THANK YOU!


Quotes from HDM drivers and volunteers plus statements by new participants

“One gentleman had tears in his eyes on the first day we delivered a meal to him. He said he was scared and was very thankful for this food.”


 “A kitchen volunteer puts a personal label on each hot lunch lid, and then decorates the lids with emoji stickers to bring a chuckle to the seniors. “They are so lonely! They call us and start crying, and thank us for these extra touches, because they know we are thinking about them.”


Meals on Wheels Staff and Volunteers organized an Easter Parade past the homes of the senior home delivered meal recipients on Friday, April 10, 2020. Seniors waved from their porches, many with tears in their eyes.


Jason Gibbons, along with the Men in Black staff and family, have been delivering frozen meals to our homebound seniors since early March. Jason, without hesitation, was willing to be called at any time if we were short volunteers. While he typically has delivered meals with his staff, he has his family members help him deliver on unexpected calls. Jason recalls the countless thank you’ s and tears from seniors he has delivered meals. One senior said the Meals on Wheels drivers are the only people they see all day, and the five-minute conversations mean the world.

Congregate sites that closed and are now serving home delivered meals:

John, age 63 said: It has helped him keep away from crowds.  And he gets a good nourished meal.  He appreciates meals being delivered.  And it also makes sure he is safe and okay.

Ray, age 93 said: It’s not only nice to get a meal, but it’s nice to have someone call to say “HI” and talk about the weather.

Get in touch


1003 Maple Hill Road
Bloomington, IL 61705-9327


Phone: 309-829-2065
Fax: 309-829-6021

Opening hours

Mon-Fri: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm


Seniors may call toll free:
Phone: 1-800-888-4456