CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a new Emergency Home Response Service that will provide 24-hour monitoring for thousands of Illinois seniors who require some assistance in order to continue living independently in their own homes. The new program will give more than 15,000 senior citizens two-way voice pagers automatically linking them to a support center that can quickly send help in case of an emergency.
“Seniors living independently need to be able to get in touch with emergency services quickly in case of an accident. This new system will help them to do just that, and that will hopefully give them and their families some peace of mind,” said Gov. Blagojevich who made the announcement at the Copernicus Senior Center on Chicago’s Northwest side.
Earlier this year, the Governor announced an increase of $59.5 million in funding to help seniors remain independent in their own homes. This included $6.8 million for the Emergency Home Response Service.
The Emergency Home Response Service will be run by the Illinois Department on Aging’s (IDoA) Community Care Program. The department expects 15,000 to 20,000 seniors to take advantage of the new service, which seniors can apply for by calling Governor Blagojevich’s Senior HelpLine at (800) 252-8966.
To be eligible for Emergency Home Response, an individual must meet the following criteria:
- Be an Illinois resident - 60 years of age or older
- Have non-exempt assets of $17,500 or less (this does not include home, vehicles or home furnishings)
- Have a signed physician statement confirming need of such service
- Have an assessed need for long term care
According to nationwide figures from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, for millions of older Americans, domestic accidents present a serious health risk. In the United States, one of every three persons age 65 and older falls each year. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and the most common cause of injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. In 2002, nearly 13,000 people ages 65 and older died of fall-related injuries.
Fractures are the most serious health consequence of falls. Eighty-seven percent of all fractures among older adults are due to falls. Approximately 250,000 hip fractures, the most serious fracture, occur each year among people over age 65. Half of all older people hospitalized for hip fractures cannot return home or live independently after their injury.
“This is a great service that the state will now provide to Illinois seniors. Not only will this keep them out of nursing homes but it will save the State millions of dollars in the long run,” said State Representative Maria Antonia Berrios (D-Chicago).
“Seniors in Illinois will benefit greatly from this new service. Estimates show that over 15,000 at-risk seniors will participate in the Emergency Home Response service,” said State Senator Iris Martinez (D-Chicago)."
“Emergency Home Response will help thousands of Illinois seniors remain independent and put their loved ones minds at ease,” said Joyce Gallagher, Commissioner of the Chicago Department on Aging.
“Governor Blagojevich is committed to providing older Illinoisans with new programs and services, as well making existing ones even better to improve the quality of life for older persons as well as making sure that members of our greatest generation are not forced to give up their homes,” IDoA Director Charles D. Johnson added.
Thanks to Governor Blagojevich’s leadership, funding increases for the following programs will allow more Illinois seniors to participate in other state programs during the current fiscal year:
· Comprehensive Case Management – $7.8 million. IDoA is undertaking the first phase of a major initiative to create a Comprehensive Case Management system. When fully operational, this system will provide a single point of entry for services, comprehensive assessments of clients needs and a broad array of other services. This new approach will ensure that frail elderly are linked to all resources available to them in their communities, including the state's prescription drug programs, Illinois Cares Rx, I-Save Rx and the Illinois Rx Buying Club.
· Home Modifications - $2 million. Through an interagency partnership between IDoA and the Illinois Housing Development Authority, grants will help seniors update their homes with safety and assistance equipment such as grab bars and ramps. Grants can also be used for emergency rental payments, first month deposits and utility bills. Earlier this month, the Governor announced $1 million of these grants to be distributed in six of the state’s regions.
· Community Care Program, Eligibility Requirements Expanded - $1.5 million. The Community Care Program is designed to assist seniors to maintain their independence and providing cost effective alternatives to nursing home placement. Beginning on July 1, the asset level eligibility requirements for the program were increased from $12,500 to $17,500, allowing an additional 400 clients to be served. It is estimated that the Community Care Program will assist nearly 44,000 clients per month in FY 07.
· Adult Day Service Transportation Rate Increased - $1 million. In FY 07, the Adult Day Service Program, which is designed especially for older people who want to remain in the community but who cannot be home alone during the day due to a physical, social and/or mental impairment, received a boost of $1 million to assist service providers with the ever increasing cost of fuel. Service providers with the program provide transportation to and from adult day service centers across the state. The rate doubled from $4.15 to $8.30 per person per ride. This is the first time the transportation reimbursement rate has been increased since 2000.
· Home Delivered Meals - $1 million. Home Delivered Meals is an important option for older adults who cannot leave their homes and cannot personally prepare nutritious meals. The $1 million will help service providers with increased meal delivery costs, increased food costs, replacement equipment and replacement vehicles.
· Senior HelpLine - $1 million. Governor Blagojevich’s Senior HelpLine provides information on programs and services and links persons 60 years of age and older and their caregivers to local services. Over the past year, the Senior HelpLine has seen a 21 percent increase in calls compared to last year, as well, the amount spent on each call has increased by 16 percent. On average, the HelpLine receives more than 16,200 calls a month. Thanks to the increase in funding, IDoA will be able to hire more employees and make additional upgrades to the current phone system.
Gov. Blagojevich has improved the quality of life for Illinois’ older residents. Since 2003, through executive and legislative action, Governor Blagojevich has:
· Created several state prescription drug programs, including Illinois Cares Rx, I-Save Rx and the Illinois Rx Buying Club.
· Implemented a 24-hour Elder Abuse Hotline, (866) 800-1409, where seniors and their loved ones can report elder abuse or exploitation and quickly get help.
· Required IDoA to develop a community reintegration program to get seniors back into the comforts of their own homes. Through the Home Again program, more than 40 older persons have regained their independence by moving out of a nursing home and back into the community.