Katrina Calhoun, Aging Care Connections care coordinator, meets with Maggie Moore of La Grange, to assess what services Moore may need to ensure her safety in her home. | Photo by Linda Hussey
111 W. Harris Ave., La Grange
Updated: May 22, 2012 2:01PM
There is a saying about getting older, one that exemplifies the importance, relevance and mission of Aging Care Connections.
“I didn’t come up with this phrase, which is from the American Society on Aging, but it’s so true: ‘Aging in America is everyone’s business,’ ” said Debra Verschelde, executive director of the La Grange-based organization (formerly the Southwest Suburban Center on Aging). Indeed, the fact that sooner or later all of us will get to an age at which we will likely need some kind of support is at the core of the nonprofit group that has served local communities for 41 years.
Just as aging is eventually everyone’s business, Aging Care Connections is dedicated to the business of meeting seniors’ diverse needs. While the organization is anchored in downtown La Grange, it works with people in 22 communities across Lyons, Riverside and Proviso townships, from age 60 and older and their family members. By its estimates, the organization assists more than 8,000 people a year.
To be sure, Aging Care Connections provides an array of connections for seniors to help them remain as independent as possible in their own communities.
“We are the information clearinghouse of all kinds, whether for local, federal or state programs,” Verschelde noted.
In addition to offering informational resources, the organization’s aging specialists assess and consult with older adults and their families on comprehensive care options to create an effective plan of care.
“We go out into the community and do a good overall assessment of what’s going on in a person’s life, where they may need help and whether or not they will accept help,” Verschelde explained.
Local seniors can also take advantage of the Aging Care Connections Senior Health Care Center, an outpatient clinic of Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. The clinic is staffed by a physician specializing in geriatric medicine and provides on-site ancillary services as well.
In addition to these and other programs and services, Aging Care Connections offers education and training through which classes and workshops are available on a host of topics that impact aging residents.
Another key role that Aging Care Connections plays is in the prevention and identification of elder abuse. The organization has been designated as an Elder Abuse Provider Agency, meaning that its staff investigates reports of suspected abuse or neglect of seniors in its service area and beyond, into communities within Leyden and Norwood Park townships.
Those who have volunteered for Aging Care Connections say that southwest suburban residents may not be aware of the depth and breadth of its offerings.
“People don’t really know all of what we do. It’s a wonderful organization that does so much for people,’’ declared current board president Saranne Milano of Western Springs, who has been involved in the group for the past decade.
Given its comprehensive programs and wide service area, Aging Care Connections relies on a large network of support as it carries out its mission. Its work is funded in part by the Illinois Department on Aging, AgeOptions, Community Memorial Foundation and local United Way organizations.
Due to the ongoing budget crunch in the state, though, Verschelde said that funding from the state is often lagging, meaning that this nonprofit depends on community support and donations more than ever.
The group hosted its 11th annual Sports Ball fundraiser on May 5. (See story on facing page.)
“It definitely is our major event of the year. We think we’ve found a unique gala fundraiser — it’s not black tie and it’s a lot of fun,” Verschelde said.