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.



Illinois Aging Network Alert
May 18, 2020


Nursing homes and assisted living communities are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. About 11,500 cases of coronavirus and over 1,550 deaths are linked to nursing homes in Illinois. The hardest hit counties, with 100 or more confirmed cases in long-term care facilities, include Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, St. Clair, and Will.

Illinois has not done enough to support these communities. Long-Term Care (LTC) facilities, their staff, and their residents are experiencing a lack of proper infectious disease control. In addition, residents are socially isolated and unable to connect with family and loved ones. The Long-Term Care Ombudsmen are not able to enter facilities to assess health and safety or investigate reports of violations; putting lives at risk. 


We urge state and federal legislators to implement new policy solutions to address the immediate and long-term issues impacting long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Testing: Provide LTC facilities with the capability to verify residents, staff, and visitors are free of COVID-19. Also, require facilities to report cases of COVID-19 immediately and accurately.

Support: Immediately prioritize full access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and monitor the program to ensure effectiveness. 

Address Social Isolation: Provide resources to keep residents safe and connected with friends and family so they can stay engaged.

Hold LTCs accountable: IDPH must ensure LTC facilities have adequate staff, provide infection control, and enforce an effective PPE program.

Establish a Statewide LTC Emergency Response Task Force: Convene key stakeholders to identify pressing issues and implement solutions.

If we do not address this now, we will likely see thousands more deaths in the coming months and maybe years. Our Older Illinoisans deserve better!

For more information, contact Susan C. Real, Legislative Chair at 309-829-2065 ext. 1218

Illinois Aging Network Alert May 07, 2020


Illinois Aging Network Alert
May 07, 2020

ISSUE:  The Illinois Long Term Care Ombudsman Program *A Vital Link to Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities*
Nursing homes account for 44% of coronavirus deaths in Illinois.  Source:  May 1, 2020 IDPH Long Term Care Facility Outbreaks COVID-19 Website.

CMS to Require Nursing Homes to Report Cases of COVID-19

In the spirit of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) effort to increase transparency within nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, CMS is proposing new requirements for long-term care facilities to report confirmed COVID-19 (or COVID-19 Persons under Investigation) cases among residents and staff. 

CMS is reinforcing existing requirements under 42 C.F.R. § 483.80 that nursing homes must report cases of COVID-19 and potential outbreaks to State and Local health departments, and now CMS is adding the requirement that these facilities report suspected cases, confirmed cases, and deaths to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a standardized format with frequency determined by CMS and CDC (at least once a week).  In addition to the COVID-19 case reports, nursing homes will be required to report information about ventilator capacity, protective equipment, staffing shortages, and access to COVID-19 testing for their residents. 

Further, CMS will be requiring nursing homes to inform residents, their representatives, and families of those residing in facilities by 5 p.m. the next day when a case of COVID-19 is confirmed within the facility or when three or more residents or staff have symptoms within 72 hours of each other. As part of this requirement, the nursing homes must inform residents of mitigating actions being implemented to prevent or reduce the risk of transmission, including if normal operations in the nursing home will be altered.  If nursing homes do not comply with these requirements, enforcement action will be taken by CMS.

Regional Ombudsman Programs are advocating on behalf of residents to ensure they receive proper care and their rights are protected as these CMS requirements are enforced.  Residents of long- term care facilities are our most vulnerable population.  Your support for the Illinois Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program is needed now more than ever!

For more information, contact Susan C. Real, Legislative Chair at 309-829-2065 ext. 1218



Illinois Aging Network Alert
April 24, 2020
ISSUE: Emergency Nutrition Response around COVID-19

Meeting the food access needs of older adults is among the top priorities of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) throughout our planning year, with this being especially pressing during the COVID-19 health crisis. Illinois AAAs have adapted their Older Americans Act funded senior meal programs, both congregate and home delivered, to ensure that all older adults who need access to nutritious food are receiving it.

With suspension of in-person dining at congregate meal sites, the Congregate Meal Programs have implemented drive-through meal pickup options and distribution of longer-term supply shelf stable meals. Home Delivered Meal programs have accommodated significant increases in demand and expanded delivery routes.

As of April 17th, 2020, the Illinois AAAs have:

  • Delivered 600,087 home delivered meals
  • Received 4,297 new referrals for clients needing meals
  • Provided 102,176 shelf stable meals to older adults across the state
    (Source: Illinois Department on Aging FY20 NAPIS Report)

All meals and food items distributed by AAAs comply with Older Americans Act nutrition standards, meaning that healthful, nutrient rich foods are reaching our older adult participants.

It is clear from the data that the need for nutrition services is great during this crisis and that AAAs will need increased funding and support from federal and state revenue streams to remain equipped to handle the increased demand for nutrition supports.

It is crucial that all players within the network of older adult stakeholders are directing seniors with nutrition needs to their AAA so they can be referred to the proper meal provider.

For more information, contact Susan C. Real, Legislative Chair at 309-829-2065 ext. 218

Illinois Aging Network Alert April 09, 2020


Illinois Aging Network Alert
April 09, 2020

Illinois Area Agencies on Aging warn that seniors are at increased risk of experiencing social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social isolation and loneliness among older adults results from the absence of interactions between an individual or social network. A recent report from AARP showed that 1 in 3 adults age 45 and older are lonely and that physical distance, such as that resulting from required social distancing, is a key driver of social isolation. These older adults are also seeing their existing social networks diminish in size as their families and neighbors also practice social distancing.

Isolation and loneliness have been connected to an increase risk of negative physical and mental health outcomes, including depression and anxiety. Seniors are already at increased risk of serious health complications from COVID-19 and those who are experiencing diminished social connectedness are less likely to receive needed wellness checks in this critical moment.

While technology can reduce loneliness, not all methods of engagement provide real human interactions. The Friendly Phone Call (aka Telephone Reassurance) program is one of the key tools that local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) are using to combat social isolation during this pandemic. By connecting staff or volunteers with seniors in their community, we can identify additional supports older adults may need during this stressful time, including home delivered meals or medical care.

Stakeholders must ensure that AAAs continue to receive funding and support to engage in this proactive outreach to our vulnerable isolated older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information, contact Susan C. Real, Legislative Chair at 309-829-2065 ext. 218

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