WBEZ | elderly http://www.wbez.org/tags/elderly Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Tracking the sequester’s impact on Illinois' poor and working class http://www.wbez.org/news/tracking-sequester%E2%80%99s-impact-illinois-poor-and-working-class-106784 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" div="" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/throughwaters/" http:="" photos="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/afford.jpg" throughwaters="" title="(Flickr/ ThroughWaters)" www.flickr.com="" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F89353742&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Sequester causes longer waits for low-income housing</strong></p><p>Sheryl Sieling is the Director of the Housing Choice Voucher Program at Cook County Housing Authority, a program provides rental assistance for low income families in Cook County suburbs.</p><p>The program doesn&rsquo;t have enough resources to provide rental assistance to everyone who qualifies. So they keep a waiting list. But since the sequester, very few people are getting taken off that waiting list and put into housing.</p><p>When Seiling hears people talk about the sequester, they are usually most worried about longer waits at airports. But she says that doesn&rsquo;t compare to the wait her clients have had.</p><p>&ldquo;Everyone who is on the waiting list right now has been waiting since 2001,&rdquo; said Seiling.</p><p>Sieling said in lieu of assistance, clients live with family or in substandard housing. She mentioned one woman who has three kids and has bounced from one homeless shelter to another.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t imagine how they function. I can&rsquo;t imagine the stress,&rdquo; said Seiling.</p><p>She said when families want to check on their status, there is really only one thing she can tell them: &ldquo;We have to just keep waiting,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F89193988&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>U.S. airports are now seeing <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/flight-delays-pile-monday-after-faa-budget-cuts-106780">furlough days</a> because of the sequester. But some social service agencies felt the pinch weeks ago.</p><p dir="ltr">Over the next few days WBEZ will bring you portraits of how poor and working class people, and the agencies that serve them, are being impacted by the government spending cuts.</p><h2 dir="ltr"><strong>Penny pinching at the Public Defender&#39;s office</strong></h2><p dir="ltr">When I first reached Jonathan Hawley, he was driving around trying to find a backup battery because his office&rsquo;s old one died. Picking up computer batteries is not normally part of the job for the Chief Federal Public Defender for the Central district Illinois. But because of the sequester, Hawley had to layoff three people, including his computer specialist.</p><p>Another problem: The computer battery cost $500.</p><p>&ldquo;We have nothing budgeted for unexpected expenses,&rdquo; said Hawley.&nbsp; &ldquo;So whether it be a computer breaking down, a chair breaking. Any penny we spend that we cannot currently predict, has to come out of the pay of the employees here.&rdquo;<br />Eventually Hawley found an extra battery at another office.</p><p>He said for now, his public defenders office is actually lucky. They have 10 planned furlough days compared to some other public defenders offices, that have as much as 30. But he said if an expensive case came in the door, where had to pay for an expert or cover travel, his office could easily end up in the same situation.</p><p>&ldquo;Which is sort of self defeating,&rdquo; said Hawley. &ldquo;You get a case that needs extraordinary resources, the only way to do that is to reduce your staff, which is one of your key resources.&rdquo;</p><p>Hawley said when a public defender takes furlough days the entire court system slows down. He also said the U.S. Attorney&rsquo;s office, the people who he goes up against in court every day, don&rsquo;t have any furlough days scheduled.</p><p>&ldquo;If you are talking about a level playing field, it doesn&rsquo;t sound very level,&rdquo; said Hawley.</p><p>Without a capable public defenders office, Hawley said the court will be forced to pass the cases to court assigned private attorneys, which he said could cost taxpayers more in the long run.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F89052536&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><h2 dir="ltr"><strong>Cuts to Senior Services</strong></h2><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Seniors%20and%20Sequester_130423_sh.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Henry County Senior Center says the sequester cuts will hurt both its workers and the people it serves. (Flickr/Rosie O'Beirne)" />Casandra Schmoll is the executive director of the Henry County Senior Center in Western Illinois, near the Iowa border.</p><p dir="ltr">When she first got the news that the sequester meant she&rsquo;d have to cut 9 percent of her budget she sat down with a big spreadsheet and tried to figure out what cut would be the least painful.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They told me to go from the least important person to the most important person,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">In terms of day to day services, she decided she was the least important. &nbsp;She gave herself furlough days. But that wasn&rsquo;t enough.<br /><br />Her employees make minimum wage, living paycheck to paycheck. Cuts in hours would be hard for them. Not to mention the seniors who depend on them everyday.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It was the toughest &nbsp;decision I have ever made in my entire life,&rdquo; Schmoll said.</p><p dir="ltr">In the end, she decided to cut back their senior transportation services. Before the sequester transportation services ended at 3 p.m., now they end at 1 p.m. That means fewer seniors getting rides to doctor appointments and grocery stores.</p><p dir="ltr">They&rsquo;ve also cut back on Friday meal delivery. In two of the towns they serve, the senior center will skip delivering meals every other Friday.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Some people, that&rsquo;s the only hot meal they&rsquo;ll get till Monday again,&rdquo; she said. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">As difficult as the cuts have been, Schmoll says it&rsquo;s given her a chance to see some real kindness. Neighbors help deliver meals and some drivers transport seniors beyond the time they&rsquo;re being paid.</p><p dir="ltr">But what has touched Schmoll the most is the older women who have been donating an extra dollar, despite their own tough financial situation, for the meals they eat.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a> and share signs of the sequester in your community.</em></p></p> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 16:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/tracking-sequester%E2%80%99s-impact-illinois-poor-and-working-class-106784 As we age, what happens to the aging? http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-22/we-age-what-happens-aging-97544 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-22/wrinkled hands_Flickr_Amrita B.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-22/wrinkled hands_Flickr_Amrita B.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 473px;" title="As a nation, we are getting older. (Flickr/Amrita B)"></p><p>Having survived yet another year and having just recently celebrated my birthday, I’ve been thinking a lot about age and aging.</p><p>As a society we are getting older and living longer: In 1850 the average age was 43; in 1900 it was 47; in 2011 it was 78; and according to one United Nations report, in 2300, citizens of developed nations can expect to live until they are 101!&nbsp;</p><p>The number of people living to an advanced age is also steadily on the rise. Just over 13% of the U.S. population is 65 years and older, and the fastest growing age group are those individuals who are 85 years and up. They represent 1.8% of the population or 5,493,433 individuals. Within this category, fully 79,000 of these individuals are centenarians.</p><p>Assuming that modern technology and medicine will allow most of us to live a relatively vigorous and vital life, the real question we must face as a society is: What do we do with this new gift of life? Can we create meaningful work for this growing demographic? Can we offer them tasks and diversions that are not demeaning and empty handed? Will we, as a society, be able to treat them with dignity and respect? Or will we look at our growing number of aging elders, at best, as a sentimental ornament of past times; or, at worst, as a useless burden and an unwanted responsibility?</p><p>From a personal point of view, I’m hoping the psychologist Abraham Maslow was right when he said that “wisdom was the accumulation of knowledge and experience, and then living long enough to reflect on it, make sense of it, and apply it to oneself and others.” I’m hoping that with age comes a certain perspective which will allow me to:</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Learn the lessons but walk away from the pain</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; See beyond unimportant parochial particulars</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Let go of some of self-serving egoism</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Transcend pointless power struggles</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; No longer fear failure</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; No longer worry about careers, status or success</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Be open to the reality of change</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">·&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Be unthreatened by the needs of others</p><p>As a society we need to address the growing problem of age and aging. According to gerontologist Seymour Littallek, “a society that does not provide sufficient gratifications for the elderly will be an unhappy society for the young as well as the old. If the old are not gratified, nobody can accept the prospects of age with equanimity…for any society which cannot treat its elderly members decently is doomed to unremitting despair and chaos.”</p><p><em>Al Gini is a professor of business ethics and chair of the department of management at Loyola University Chicago. He is also the co-founder and associate editor of&nbsp;</em>Business Ethics Quarterly,<em>and the author of several books, including</em>&nbsp;My Job, My Self&nbsp;<em>and</em>&nbsp;Seeking the Truth of Things: Confessions of a (catholic) Philosopher.</p></p> Thu, 22 Mar 2012 16:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-22/we-age-what-happens-aging-97544 Elderly expect brunt of postal closures http://www.wbez.org/story/elderly-expect-brunt-postal-closures-94620 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-05/photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The U.S. Postal Service announced that during the busy holidays it will take a break from a controversial plan to close post offices, but the issue is still stewing in some neighborhoods - especially among elderly residents.</p><p>Eleven post offices in Chicago are on the list of potential closures, nearly all on the city’s South and West Sides. Those are the communities where many say that older residents will bear the brunt of the hardship of having to travel farther to use a full-service postal facility.</p><p>Residents near those locations received letters over the summer notifying them of the proposal to close their local post office, and inviting comments. Dorothy Sumpter, a 73-year-old resident of the North Lawndale neighborhood, said as soon as she received the letter, she put the date of a public town hall meeting on the proposal on her calendar.</p><p>“People like me need the post office,” said Sumpter, “so that’s why I wanted to be in on it. I’m a citizen and I use every right that I possibly can.”</p><p>Sumpter uses the Otis Grant Collins Post Office, where revenue dropped $200,000 between fiscal years 2007 and 2010. Throughout the nation, post offices are seeing a decline in revenues and foot traffic, attributed to the shift to online bill-paying and correspondence. But Sumpter says she and many other elderly people like her aren’t part of the internet-using trend.</p><p>“I don’t feel comfortable using it,” she said. “I’m old-fashioned.”</p><p>Sumpter goes to the post office every week because she has a P.O. Box there, but also to buy stamps and mail her bills. She said she feels comfortable going there because it’s easy to access on foot and by bus, and she knows all the workers by name. If the Otis Grant Collins branch closes, the next closest post office would be in Cicero. “Which I don’t even know where the post office is in Cicero,” Sumpter laughed. “And I don’t really want to have to go over there just to go to a post office, because many times I can walk to the post office in less than 15 minutes.”</p><p>Sumpter said she fears that the elderly will become more isolated if they lose their neighborhood post offices, because many are less mobile to begin with, and sometimes walking to the post office is a crucial part of their social interaction and weekly exercise regime. Karen Schenck, Chicago District Manager/Postmaster, said many share Sumpter’s view.</p><p>“That was the largest concern. If you had to ask me what was the biggest concern of all the town hall meetings,” said Schenck, “was people were concerned about the elderly in their own community.”</p><p>The list of proposed closures came from USPS headquarters in Washington, D.C., said Schenck.</p><p>“Nobody took into consideration any other fact except for how much revenue,” she explained, “and if there was another post office within two miles close to it that could service the community.”</p><p>Schenck says the district office is now looking at population data to see how many elderly live near the post offices that may close. She says that’ll help them make a final decision. Schenck says of the 11 offices on the shortlist, some will be spared.</p><p>But concern for the elderly may be loudest in Chicago’s Chinatown. Of the zip codes where offices may close, Chinatown’s is the one with the greatest portion of residents over age 65, with several senior housing high rises in the immediate vicinity of the post office. Chinatown’s elderly also say they have an unique need - a place where people are bilingual.</p><p>“The employees, they don’t speak Chinese,” said 60-year old Harry Wong.</p><p>Wong is like many elderly Chinese immigrants in Chicago who speak limited English. He uses the Chinatown post office because if there’s a language barrier, he can turn to other customers in the store for help translating. That’s the reason that many elderly Chinese who live in other places will often bypass a closer post office to go to Chinatown’s.</p><p>Chinatown organizers have gathered hundreds of handwritten letters from residents to protest the potential closure of their post office. USPS is still accepting those comments, and says no post offices will close before March.</p></p> Tue, 06 Dec 2011 23:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/elderly-expect-brunt-postal-closures-94620 Transit for elderly and disabled "major issue" http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-blizzard/transit-elderly-and-disabled-major-issue <p><p>Pace Bus&rsquo;s paratransit service, a lifeline to elderly and disabled people who rely on public transportation, has had to overcome significant difficulties to access its riders.</p><p>&ldquo;In the city, and in a number of the suburbs, too, we're running into a lot of issues as far as vehicles being able to access the side streets where people live,&rdquo; said spokesman Patrick Wilmot, &ldquo;and it's been a major issue.&rdquo;</p> <div>Wilmot said the difficulties have been compounded by snow-filled sidewalks.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;A lot of times people are using mobility devices, like wheelchairs and walkers and so forth,&rdquo; said Wilmot, &ldquo;and if the sidewalks aren&rsquo;t clear then it becomes really complicated for people to be able to even access the vehicle.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The 24-hour, door-to-door service normally makes 8 thousand stops on weekdays, in six counties of the Chicago region. Today, said Wilmot, it handled fewer than 3 thousand. Wilmot credited riders for opting to postpone non-essential trips. Still, he added, the service has logged on-time pickups for 90 percent of its calls since the blizzard hit.</div></p> Thu, 03 Feb 2011 21:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-blizzard/transit-elderly-and-disabled-major-issue North shore woman passes away at 111; believed to be oldest in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/story/elderly/north-shore-woman-passes-away-111-believed-be-oldest-illinois <p><p>An Evanston woman believed to be the oldest resident of Illinois has died at the age of 111.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Authorities say Evelyn Margaret Ralston died in her sleep Wednesday at an Evanston nursing home.&nbsp;</p><p>The Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group says Ms.Ralston was believed to be the 17th oldest person in the United States and the 52nd oldest in the world.</p><p>She was born Oct. 17, 1899, on Chicago's North Side and lived there until she moved to Evanston in 1953. She spent 43 years working as a secretary at the world headquarters of what is now the United Methodist Church.</p><p>Her niece, Betty Ann Ralston, says her aunt was questioned so many times about the secret to long life that she got sick of answering such queries.<br />&nbsp;</p><p>(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.&nbsp; All Rights Reserved.)</p></p> Thu, 30 Dec 2010 18:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/elderly/north-shore-woman-passes-away-111-believed-be-oldest-illinois