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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2000

Ryan Implements Circuit Breaker Recommendations From Summit On Aging Reviews Additional Senior Issues

SPRINGFIELDĀ­-Governor George H. Ryan today received the Governor's Summit on Aging recommendations, but noted that his administration already includes eligibility for the Circuit Breaker program in FY 2001 budget.

"During the spring session, we negotiated an FY 2001 tax relief plan to increase the number of seniors eligible for the state's circuit breaker program," Ryan said. "While we have addressed this one issue, I intend to review the other Summit recommendations to find ways to help seniors today and in the future."

During the two-day conference, Aging Director Margo E. Schreiber said Summit participants met to address vital issues and find solutions. "The Governor called for professionals from throughout the state to analyze burdens facing seniors and come up with proposals to improve their quality of life," Schreiber said.

Schreiber noted that the fastest growing segment of society is the population over age 85, a continuing trend as baby boomers grow older. "We must come up with new ways to handle the greater number of seniors who are living longer than ever before," Schreiber said.

The Summit committee's conclusions and recommendations centered on financial independence, elder rights, housing, transportation, nutritional health, long term care and long term senior issues. Ryan said seniors are a step closer to achieving one goal--financial independence-since the legislature's passage last week of a three-year, phased-in permanent increase in the eligibility levels for the circuit breaker program to save taxpayers $35 million in each of the next three years.

Financial Independence:

  • The median income of retirees over age 65 is less than half of other households. The Summit report recommends increasing eligibility for pharmaceutical programs, such as Circuit Breaker and Medicaid. There are also recommendations that law enforcement focus on financial crimes targeting the elderly. The state must work with organizations like corporate retiree clubs and chambers of commerce to promote better financial planning by seniors.

Elder Rights:

  • Nearly five percent of people over age 60 suffer some form of mistreatment. In Illinois, over 50 percent of reported cases involve financial exploitation. The Summit report recommends stricter enforcement of the law, and access by seniors to more civil remedies, as well as focusing on abuses of execution and durable power of attorney. The report also calls for the Illinois Bar Association to review legislation affecting seniors.

Housing:

  • Seniors prefer to live in their own homes. The report recommends that more housing options be established such as assisted living, congregate housing and group homes.

Transportation:

  • Nationally, 8.4 million adults over age 65 do not have a driver's license. Many cannot walk to a grocery store or bus stop. The report recommends funding demonstration projects to provide accessible, affordable and user-friendly transportation services. In addition, corporate sponsors should be encouraged to fund vehicle purchases and more seniors should serve on transportation planning committees and advisory boards.

Nutritional Health:

  • An estimated oneĀ­fourth of all older persons are malnourished. Better nutrition could mitigate chronic diseases for 85 percent of older Americans. The report recommends that senior nutrition programs coordinate with health care services, and the message of eating healthy be coordinated at local, state and federal levels.

Long Term Care:

  • About 35 percent of adults over age 70 need assistance with activities including meal preparation, laundry service, house cleaning, and shopping whether they live at home or in a residential facility. The report recommends that specialty training for home care workers be developed. Medical schools should require students to take courses in geriatrics.
Seniors of the Future:
  • By 2020, the U.S. population over age 60 is expected to exceed 70 million. In 1995, there were 3.4 million baby boomers in Illinois. Seniors comprise about 30 percent of the state's entire population and almost half of its workforce. It is estimated that about 2.2 million baby boomers over the age of 65 will be living in Illinois in 2030. The number of older persons living alone is expected to double by 2030, and the number of older people with chronic health conditions will increase 200 percent. The Summit committee recommends increased public awareness on disease prevention and intergenerational programs.

Additionally, the report discusses ways to avoid premature institutionalization, the need to adequately compensate caregivers, and how to establish better partnerships between state and local agencies and businesses and centers.

Governor Ryan will review the report's recommendations to develop legislative initiatives and program policies for the Department on Aging.


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