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Caring for Illinois Seniors: Are Baby Boomers at a Breaking Point?

"She’s just like family. She does all my grocery shopping and everything. And that means so much to have somebody that can do these things for you," said Jane McDonald, who was featured on this week’s episode of In the Loop. McDonaldis an 80-year-old grandmother, wife, and mother. She is one of 80,000 Illinois seniors who depend on home health care. But if the state’s budget crisis continues as it does now, the public will have to take responsibility for the consequences.

Every year the state prematurely runs out of money for the fiscal year, forcing home health care providers to go without funds for a few months. Some providers make do, while others are forced to cut budgets or close.

But as Episode 108 of In the Loopreported, this year, the state ran out of money 3 1/2 months early. The Illinois Department on Aging depends on these funds in order to assist older adults and help them retain independence. Bob Thieman, the Executive Director of the Illinois Association of Community Care Program Homecare Providers said in an interview for In the Loop that if home care providers are unable to assist, the affected senior will wind up in a nursing home that costs the state (and therefore taxpayers) four times as much as it does to provide home care aid.

What is the source of budget issues for Illinois? In the Loop discussed another of the state’s worries in Episode 104 on pension reform (full episode at the link).

The question now is this: What is being done to help the families of today’s grandparents and aging Baby Boomers? Tune in to the encore of In the Loop this Sunday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. CT as hosts Barbara Pinto and Chris Bury search for answers.

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    WYCC Interactive Intern Theresa Campagna takes a look at the money trouble facing the Illinois Department on Aging, and...
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