Seniors perspectives and issues
from the vantage of Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference

Pages in this website on Affordable housing and living, Disabilities, Disabilities-Accessible Sidewalk Cafes, HP Disabilities Business Packet, Healthcare Delivery Issues, Helpline and Seniors and Taxes/Tax breaks contain material and links pertinent to seniors' needs and desires. Village. Resources and providers can be found also in our topical Community Resources and Helpline pages.
What's in the Health Care Law for seniors? See in Healthcare Delivery Issues. (Be sure to visit U of C led's South Side Health Collaborative's directory to all kinds of health and other services at
A good site full of tips is
Visit Village for announcement of the Chicago Hyde Park Village Board, and changes since

Meetings (after 2nd Sat in June, OWL does not meet until 1st Saturday in October.) 1st Sats 1 at lower level of Treasure Island.

The Village will have a 4-week program on developing brain power Mondays 10 am ast Hyde Park Art Center- call Vilage Office for detaisl and to sign up. 773 363-1933.

The Village is co sponsoring a series of interactiosnf with UC Medicine Doctors in the SHARE program, at various locales (most at Mather More Than a Cafe, in Chatham). Transportation from Augustana Church is provided free. Contact the office. Next is 2, Tuesday, 9 am at Mather on Stroke Awareness. Visit
A new women's g roup is forming- meets May 8 at 10 at Cafe 53, 1369 E. 53rd St.

2nd and 4th Wednesdays, 10:30-1:30 pm. Hyde Park Village twice-monthly Drop Ins at Augustana Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn. $10.
The exercise portion will vary and rotate. Book exchange/ jewelry/ knick-knack table. Yoga or exercsie, lunch .
Please let us know if there's a program you would like us to try. Don $7, $5 members.

August 9, Wednesday, 1030 am. CHP Village Drop In at Augustana Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn. Exercise with Randy Kant, writers with Melisha, Blood Pressure with Montgomery Place, jewelry and book tables, lunch ($5,7), program- personal safety with Chicago and UC Police.


3rd Wednesday, 6:30 pm. CAPS for most of Hyde Park. Treasure Island lower level, 1526 E. 55th St. Skipped to February

Wednesday, 7 pm. 2nd and 4th Wednesdays. Card and Mah Jong Night. Mah Jong lesson included. Treasure Island lower level. Skipped to January.

3rd Mondays, 6:30 pm. Chicago Hyde Park Village Sewing and Mending Get Together. 3rd Mondays. Treasure Island Lower Level, 1526 E. 55th St.

Men's talking group meets 1st and 3rd Wednesdays at Piccolo Mondo, 1642 E. 56th St.

Where can seniors go?
Some groups you should know about
Moving ahead with Google Groups, clubs, alliances, and Village
What's new that it's said we need to know about. From the OWL Summerfest 2009 (blind, snow removal, bicycle safety)
Beyond "senior friendly"- WHO guide to active aging in cities
OWL's senior visits and wants survey.
Staying in your home- nursing home not the only option. VISIT THE "VILLAGE" PAGE TO LEARN MORE! (They are also doing a survey.)
GrandFamilies forms empowerment group in Hyde Park
Complete Streets

Some new resources
Illinois report on aging friendliness of communities (Maturing of Illinois)- reduced summary. visit full in pdf

Questions about your city sticker- if you are a senior, go to the city clerk website and look for "Seniors and Special Pricing"

An important resource is University of Illinois' Plan Well Retire Well site-

There are affordable rental options for seniors, but you have to look.

Safeguarding against elder abuse:

Link to the state of Illinois page with information on Advanced Directives (Durable Powers of Attorney for Property and for Health Care, Living Will). It also has links to the forms.

For those eligible seniors who might like to take advantage of this real estate tax deferral. If you are over 65, have income under 55,000, and have the required insurance, the program can allow you to defer your property taxes until your property is sold. You must reapply each year and the deadline in March 1. Go the the following link for more information and to download the necessary forms. Please share this information with others who could benefit from this program.

Ald. Burns announces:

Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors (SARFS). The Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors (SARFS) provides enabling devices and limited home improvements at no cost to the homeowner or tenant for senior citizens through out Chicago. The SARFS Program is free:

Services are provided by the Partners in Community Building Inc. contracted by the City of Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development, and can include the following repairs:

• Weather-stripping, caulking of doors
• Repair or replacement of door
• Floor, wall and ceiling repair
• Installation of smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers
• Installation in the bathroom of grab bars, vanity, tub surround, accessible raised toilet, hand-held showerhead
• Installation of accessible faucet handles
• make available a shower bench for bathtub
• Installation or repair of railings (interior or exterior)
• Construction of a wheelchair accessible ramp, widening of doors (not all agencies)
• Repair of (interior or exterior) steps
• replace kitchen base wall and sink cabinetry (accessible height if needed)

On-site inspections will be done to determine services needed.

Applicants shall be at least 60 years of age. Qualified recipients can be a homeowner or renter. The building must be 1 to 4 units to be eligible for repairs through the Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors (SARFS). PICB Inc serves Seniors with low income who live in the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Wards. When a renter makes an application, the landlord shall certify that he or she is the owner where the applicant resides, and give permission for repairs to be done under the SARFS Program and will not increase the rent as a result (SARFS) improvements.

You can apply directly with: Norman Long (312) 328-0873
Partners In Community Building, Inc.
3424 S. State Street, Ste. 1A8 - 1
Chicago, Illinois 60616
Norman’s Office Hours are: 9am-5pm Monday, Tues, Thursday & Friday

Here is a reminder from Walt Henderson of the US Treasury Department's "Go Direct Campaign." (It is passed along in Monday's Sun-Times p. 27 column by "Dear Abby."
One can get assistance in so doing, or more information at the secure line o Go Direct Call Center, (800) 333-1795- they say the switchover can be done in less than 10 minutes BUT THEY HAVE TO LHAVE HANDY EITHER THEIR MOST RECENT BENEFIT CHECK OR KNOW THEIR 12-DIGIT BENEFIT NUMBER and, if they want direct deposit, their ACCOUNT NUMBER AND THE ROUTING NUMBER OF THE BANK/CREDIT UNION THEY WILL BE USING.
This should be passed on to seniors and others we know getting benefit checks. There are still over 5 million getting the soon-to-be-eliminated paper checks.

Recent articles look at how the massive retirement of Boomers is affecting assumptions about federal and state spending needs just to stay even and what the impacts might be if federal spending stays at historic percentages of GNP or is reduced, also how many replacement jobs are needed to keep unemployment dropping. Looking at these, local observers have noted that the Village model may help both individuals and communities adjust in the crunch.

Check out the new board of the Hyde Park Village in Village page. next Drop In January 8, 10:30-1:30 at Augustana Church.


We will initiate a regular newsletter, which we will distribute both electronically and via regular mail. We expect a first issue by the end of September (2013). We welcome letters and comments for publication! Send to me: or Andrew Holzman (a Montgomery Place summer intern that they have generously shared with us and the HP Herald):
Announced in the Newsletter is a fine reception fundraiser and an opportunity to become financially involved in the Village and is services.

Select Wednesdays, 10:30-1:30 pm. Hyde Park Village Drop In. Augustana Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn. Next Sept. 4. Special Guest: Randi Kebanoff Kant will lead our exercise program from 10:45 to 11:30. Randi is an experienced wellness and fitness professional who has given programs throughout the Chicagoland area to help individuals and groups incorporate healthy behaviors into their lives.2nd, 4th and more Wednesdays, 10:30 am- 1:30 pm. Hyde Park Village Drop In. The Chicago Hyde Park Village, in partnership with a new University of Chicago student group, will launch a drop-in pilot program for seniors living in Hyde Park. Mather Lifeways, an Evanston, Ill.–based senior advocacy organization has given the group a grant to start up the program. Andrew Holtzman will be a facilitator. AUGUSTANA CHURCH, 5500 S. WOODLAWN.
The drop-in pilot will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Friday for three weeks, on May 24, May 31 and June 7, at the Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave. Each program day will include a light lunch, snacks and activities such as computer skills workshops, discussions on local issues, poetry workshops and Hyde Park trivia games. Free. Suggest rsvp to Sue Alitto,, 773 752-6587.

Services to aging plan undergoes annual revision in May. Each year the Department of Family and Support Services prepares an “Area Plan on Aging” describing how we propose to deliver services to Chicagoans age 60 years and older using funds allocated from Title III and Title VII of the federal Older Americans Act and State of Illinois General Revenue Funds.
As part of the planning cycle, we prepare a Public Information Document that summarizes the major elements of the proposed plan, and gather comments and recommendations.
Copies of the Public Information Document will be available through May 27 at, and at each of the Regional and Satellite Senior Centers. Comments are invited on the Public Information Document, and the proposed FY 2012 Area Plan will then be submitted to the Illinois Department on Aging.

Marcia Trawinski held a seminar on ped safety and transit in winter for OWL in January 2012.

A group of Hyde Park residents (possibly parents of Akiba and other schools who got a new stop sign at Cornell?) (Yael Hoffman, Kelly King-O'Brien, Anne Renna, and Adi Rom) have been exploring with Ald. Burns options for improved pedestrian crosswalk safety. One device likely to be tried on 51st is spring-loaded signs in crosswalks. The group (not the alderman) is reluctant on red-light speed cameras, but remarked in a letter to the Herald that if drivers don't shape up and start following the new law or various devices work, the cameras are what the neighborhood is going to get.

Upcoming OWL meetings: First Unitarian north entry, 5650 S. Woodlawn.

April 6, Saturday, 1 pm. 5650 S. Woodlawn.

May 4, Saturday, 1 pm. Older Women's League Hyde Park. First Unitarian, 5650 S. Woodlawn.

2011 OWL National Mothers Day Report dealing with impacts of the Health Care Act:
2012's will deal with employment- older women working and seeking work.

The 3x / week walking (MWF) and 2x / week fitness class (MW) are still going strong. The free program is sponsored by University of Chicago Medical Center Community Affairs. Registration is required to get your badge that gains you entrance into the Museum and free parking in the garage. Here is the web site to visit for details and the contact information.

Re the debate over speed cameras, there were two posts by Chicago Magazine analysing the matter and citing strong evidence that the cameras do lead to reduction in the behaviors that cause traffic and pedestrian accidents and are also correlated with crime in general. The cameras, if known and location-stationary, are also considered by most to be more fare than "hidden car" and random stops.

Illinois cuts in meals and medicine to elderly assistance worry social monitors.

Alliance of Retired Americans, Allied with OWL including OWL Hyde Park.

AARP (American Association of Retired People) Midway Chapter #1371. .
Contacts coming. (Find material there on job and many other kinds of resources.) Meets third Thursdays monthly at Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn, except Dec. and January, 1-3 pm.
Advocacy; mentoring with Big Brothers/Sisters, Interview life histories in conjunction with Library of Congress and Folklore Society, Voices of Civil Rights (oral history), garden work.

AARP Illinois. 222 N. LaSalle St., St. 710, Chicago, IL 60601. 312 458-3610. One contact Terri Worman, AD- Community Outreach. Twitter @aarpillinois,

Save the dates for 2011-2012 Chicagoland Roundtables:
Registration for Aging in America 2012 Opens in October!
•Friday, December 2, 2011 - Serving People with Dementia: Tools and Resources to Support You and Your Clients•Friday, February 2, 2012 - A Discussion on Entitlements


Let's Establish a Hyde Park Village. see the Village page. Some background: The "village" concept, is an idea that began in Boston about 8 or 9 years ago as a way to enable seniors to "age in place." The first, Beacon Hill Village, has served as a model for villages that are now mushrooming all over the country and even internationally. Currently there are about 50 established villages in the U.S. and at least another 50 in various stages of development. In our own area, Lincoln Park has an established village and Evanston/North Shore, Lakeview and Streeterville are all in the process of building their own villages. OWL Illinois has purchased the How-to manual from Beacon Hill to help get us started.
The basic idea is a membership community in which one phone number provides members access to whatever services, support, help or advice they may need to continue to function independently and to remain in their own home. But like any community, each village develops its own unique character based on the interests and circumstances of its members. Contact Susan Alitto, 773-752-6587. All are welcome. "Toward a Hyde Park Village--a neighborhood organization designed to enable members to remain comfortably, safely, and happily in their own homes and apartments whatever their age or physical abilities."
They are currently in the committee work and meet-small-groups phase having held four successful larger meetings. Organization work is underway with students from Chicago Booth.

Montgomery Place residents have created a mosaic to be installed in the underpass under 57th Drive at Lake Shore Drive. Overseeing is artist Mirtes Zwyerzynski. Funders include Chicago Public Art Group and Harper Court Arts Foundation.

Governor Quinn has signed the law change so seniors will pay half fare rather than free unless they are under the circuit breaker (c. 27,000 a year single, 36 couple, 45 3 or more). Here are details from the RTA Feb. 25, 2011.

Those with circuit breakers (ind. under $27,610, couple under 26,635, 3+ under $45,657) and have cards will seamlessly continue to ride free with their cards. There will be various notice procedures for thoses who may have to show qualification.

Those wo do not qualify under circuit breaker but have senior transit cards will continue to use their current cards until 180 days or notification and will be notified. There will be an RTA administered procedure for them to get new cards and pay the following fares:

.85 or $1 on CTA, .85 on Pace, and 1/2 of as-published on Metra (but $1.00 for within Zone A).

Where can seniors go for services with senior services ending at the Neighborhood Club (Sept. 24, 2010)? The club is trying to relocate programs but it hitting a stone wall.

Federal website:

Safety tips including for seniors from Timika Hoffman-Zoller (who works at UC Police) -

OWL writes: Greetings to Hyde Park OWL Members and Friends,

Many of you are familiar with the Health & Medicine Policy Research Group (HMPRG), the organization founded by Hyde Park physician and former Cook County (Strozier) Hospital President Quentin Young.

On January 25, 2011, that organization sponsored an important conference on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), focusing on how the long-term care provisions of the Affordable Care Act could be implemented in the State of Illinois. The entire conference can now be viewed, on line, on your computer, if you control/click on the following link: <>

Move your mouse to anywhere on the link, hold down “Control” and then click with your mouse. You can see and hear the entire January 25th conference, including the five morning speakers and the afternoon interactive session with State of Illinois administrators who will be responsible for making ACA long-term care provisions work in this state. Audience questions and speaker answers are included.

Jay Mulberry gives testimony about Lifeline and similar notification systems:

Dealing with [Lifeline] on administrative matters by phone was also very pleasant.

Lifeline involved a connection with the house phone and was only good at home. That isn't terrible since when out of the house help is usually available, but if you can get a simple system that works both in an out of the home it would be best.

Lifeline works with either a bracelet or a necklace which is worn all the time, even in the shower. That feature is very important and makes the system better than just using a cell phone.

We had a key box on the door of the house [or similar secure system]. The combination was given to Lifeline and to the police and to a couple of neighbors in case they had to get in. That isn't a bad idea in general.

Another added, in considering any system, work out carefully just what would happen in an emergency: how would firemen get in? would they have to break down doors? would a key safe work in your situation? who would you give keys to your home who would be willing to check on you? are they usually at home? do they live in the building or nearby? And be sure the system has your next of kin.

The local organizations with which Hyde Park-Kenwood works most closely on seniors issues are:

OWL- Older Women's League.,
Co-presidents Judy Roothaan, Ken Schug. Hyde Park Chapter: Alison Hartman (also state liaison) , Judy Roothaan, Lorie Rosenblum. E-mail Alice Brown,

Open to anyone of all ages. Presents programs and advocates on issues of interest to midlife and older women, and advocates for policy changes on the state and national level. Areas of interest: personal & financial security, health and prescription drugs, image of midlife and older women, access to housing and housing alternatives, ending discrimination against women and the elderly including in the workplace, caregiving. Newsletter. More about. OWL is working heavily on elder abuse with ElderFinancial Protection Network.
OWL Illinois Hyde Park is investigating and acting upon all aspects that make Hyde Park a Seniors Friendly Community or detract from the same.

Coalition for Equitable Development. Pat Wilcoxen President. 1525 E. 53rd St. Suite 907, Chicago, IL 60615.
Purpose and Mission:

Promoting an Economically and Racially Diverse Community of Hyde Park-Kenwood, CECD seeks to: Convene resident, faith-based communities, civic, educational, and social organizations, and the business community in planning, guiding, and monitoring housing and related activities that will support the maintenance of an economically and racially diverse community of Hyde Park and Kenwood. Has several active committees doing research and interacting with developers.

An outgrowth of Interfaith Open Communities and OWL, it now has many active organizations and faith communities, and many successes in bending housing toward senior friendliness.

Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force. Another coalition, led by Karen Robinson of DARE, HPKCC, OWL, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, and the 4th and 5th Ward offices. It works for respect for the rights of and friendly treatment of persons with disabilities, including from businesses; friendly and accessible interface such as improved intersections, sidewalks, bicyclists, developments, businesses; a more accessible community for all; education of the community about the Americans with Disabilities Act and its implications.,

Others, including the local chapter of AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) are found in our Neighborhood Nonprofit Organizations page.

Op Shop surge: Local groups join forces with social, arts space.
Example: Herald, May 4, 2011. By Daschell M. Phillips.

The Op Shop hosted a potluck with several Hyde Park senior organizations last Friday to provide a platform for seniors to share its hopes and wishes for the community and possibly develop new social clubs. Members of the Hyde Park Village, God Neighbors and Older Women's League (OWL) participated in the social gathering and brought their food and drink offerings as well as ideas about clubs, services and gathering places they would like to see be available to seniors.

Since the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club changed its focus to youth services, the senior services that once met at the club are now scattered to different locations within the neighborhood. Laura Shaeffer, founder of the Op Shop, said the seniors have stayed in contact in pat through the Good Neighbors online Google Group [and the Hyde Park Village Google Group], which [were] started by Hyde Parker Jay Mulberry, so the Op Shop decided to invite them to a potluck for some face-to-face time.

"We're calling this a sustenance social," Shaeffer said. "Socializing is good for your health just as much as eating a healthy meal." During the social, participants were asked to post their needs, wants, hopes and wishes for teh community on the "Big Wall" and to list any new groups and clubs they want started. "We hope interest groups and clubs will come from this event," sid Susan Alitto, Hyde Park Village representative and member of O.W.L. and Good Neighbors. "Game night, gourmet food club or book clubs are all great possibilities."

The potluck was another way to hear from the community and "figure our what our village is going to look like," said Margaret Huyck, secretary of the Hyde Park O.W.L., president of National O.W.L. and member of the Hyde Park Village coordinating committee. "I think the village will be able to support what we were trying to do at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club," Huyck said. "Those who came to the club appreciated it but not many seniors came to the club." She said in order to run a really good senior program the seniors needed a different space, and the village is looking forward to building a place of comfort where they can listen to music, play games, have reading groups and just get together for social time with others.

HP Village is likely to be located there.


About OWL: (contact details in Community Organizations- Civic, scroll to Older Women's League.)

OWL NATIONAL: 1-877-OLDRWMN (653-7966)
1025 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 701, Washington DC 20036

Hyde Park OWL (There is a separate OWL Illinois.)

From the Hyde Park Herald, August 20, 2008. By Kate Hawley

Hyde Park OWL wise to senior issues

Even in Hyde Par, known for zealous civic engagement, the Older Women's League (OWL) stands out. At community meetings on everything from retail development to affordable housing, OWL members are frequently the first to shoot a hand in the air, wondering how senior citizens might be affected.

Judy Roothaan, the organization's co-president, opened the doors of her sprawling Hyde Park house on a recent evening to share what the group's roughly three-dozen members are concerned about.

"We want a walkable community, we want local retail, and we're aware that the way people shop these days, restaurants are the thing that's going to draw people," she said. "We want to promote bicycle riding," she added. Several of our members are regular bike riders. That may surprise you, but it's the truth.

If this agenda seems less than retiring, that's the point. The mission of Hyde Park OWL, a local chapter of a national organization founded in 1980, is to promote the kind of neighborhood where senior citizens and "age in place," remaining active in the homes and communities where they've built their lives.

The Hyde Park chapter, founded in 1989, meets monthly from October to June at the First Unitarian Church, 5650 S. Woodlawn Ave. Members weight in on topics such as "Successful aging in caring communities" and "Our public spaces and places: are you included?"

Roothaan hosts the group's annual "Summer Fest" at her home, to which local notables are invited. This year's event on August 6 was attended by state Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13), Mae Wilson, chief of staff for Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) an Ted Fetters, campaign manager for state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25). Roothaan's co-president, Ken Schug, also attended (OWL accepts men as members, Roothaan said.)

The evening yielded local updates and a lively discussion on the merits of tax-increment financing, Roothaan reported. She was still in debate mode a few days later. "How senior-friendly is Hyde Park?" she asked her husband, Clemens Roothaan, the noted scholar of physics, chemistry and computer science, who was sitting in their living room. "I have no complaints," he said...."Would you like more things in the neighborhood, a greater variety of stores? she pressed. He thought for a minute and said, "I would like a big store that has everything in computer ware."

In her view, the neighborhood rates "fairly low" in senior friendliness. "The transportation is not that good, and the array of stores that seniors want isn't that enticing," she said. To remedy that, Roothaan said that OWL's members are investigating the idea of seating for older people in neighborhood shops and banks, and a delivery van hat would serve a coalition of local businesses. "That would reduce car use," she said, noting the group's growing interest in sustainability. That's a concept that might really mobilize people, she said. "You want something that goes beyond retail, that's an ideal for the community.

OWL's survey of senior's visits, wants and needs. October 2008

Asked what business and types of businesses or services they had visited in the neighborhood in the past months, the variety was amazing.

Suggestions for parks: a greenhouse, arts and crafts

For transportation: more buses especially on and to 53rd St., shuttles and trolleys, share-a rides, bus information availability

Parking- 53rd St. was stressed including lighting to read the new meters

Bicycle visibility and keeping off sidewalks were seen as priorities

So were sidewalk and intersection improvements

Desired: retail- clothing, staples, housewares, sidewalk cafes, lower price grocery store, thrift store(s) and or Target were mentioned.


Owl says- March 2009 (from an online article): Currently, those 65+ make up approximately 13% of the population. As the baby boomers enter this demographic, this number is expected to nearly double, rising to 25%. Furthermore, between now and 2050, the population of Americans 85+ is expected to quadruple. OWL has long been aware of the importance and necessity of high quality health care - now in our efforts towards reform, we want to stress the importance of family practice physicians and geriatricians, which are seemingly becoming extinct over the years.

The issue isn't that there is a shortage of medical students or doctors, it is that the majority of physicians are now specializing their practices which results in too many referrals, and patients bouncing around from one physician to another. Medical costs exponentially multiply, as the most expensive part of a check-up often comes from walking through the door....

From the April 2010 Newsletter- By Joan Staples

Accessibility and Transportation Committee
The Accessibility and Transportation Committee of Hyde Park OWL is continuing its work on Snow and Ice, Bicycle Safety, and Transportation. Its current members
are Joan Staples, chair, Susan Alitto, Gary Ossewaarde, and Marcia Trawinski. Judith Hochberg and others have participated from time to time.

Our research into who handles snow and ice removal in our area and how this is done, revealed Chicago ordinances requiring removal by residential and business
properties. Contact was made with the Ward offices and the University of Chicago personnel involved, as well as City of Chicago staff. Hyde Park OWL had two
programs on our findings: January (previously reported on) and February. On February 6, Kiersten Grove and Jerad Weiner of the Chicago Department of Transportation, Pedestrian Program, Division of Project Development, spoke to us, describing their and the city's work to increase pedestrian safety and to tackle concerns about snow and ice removal. One of the concerns that people have is finding help to shovel snow and ice. The Ward offices can help seniors (and others?) who are disabled, etc. or find it hard to shovel themselves. However, Ellie Hall contacted the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, and found that teens and adults who go there were interested in doing snow shoveling. I believe the contact there was Abby Hymen.
In any event, next winter we will follow through on this. It is also possible that other community organizations (in Woodlawn and Grand Crossing) and other aldermen, i.e., the 20th Ward's Willie Cochran, could also help.

In addition to already existing programs to educate the public, review policies, enforce those policies, and engineer streets and sidewalks to conform to policies, we
were told about the first meeting (January 7) of a new Snow Removal Task Force, that will review existing ordinances and policies and make recommendations for
improvement. Kiersten's office is particularly aware of safety for Seniors, and reviewed some of the programs already in existence and contemplated to educate both Seniors and the public about street safety. In addition, others in the City departments are conducting enforcement and educational programs to improve
vehicular safety at intersections and crossings that impacts us all. Our Committee plans to keep in touch with Kiersten and Jerad, and hopes that Hyde Park OWL
can host a meeting (with co-sponsors) for seniors in Hyde Park/Kenwood in the future.

We are planning to follow through on concerns about bicycle safety with Rebekah Broussard, who works on these issues. We will let you know soon about this. We
are thinking of having an event or series of events on bicycle safety with the Bicycling Ambassadors sometime in the fall. These events would target community riders as well as students (who were involved in events that happened last summer and fall).

Finally, Gary and I met with Rodney Morris, now the head of Transportation and parking for the University. We are urging this Department to increase opportunities for community members, who are not part of the University, to ride buses partially sponsored by the University, especially at night. Maybe community residents could register and contribute to these evening b uses or University-only buses. As new developments
occur, such as Harper Court and the Village Shopping Center, there will need to be transportation improvements for everyone, not just University staff and students.

Our last Committee meeting was on March 9. We will continue to communicate our work and findings to the chapter. Join us! Marcia is on several City of Chicago
Committees, and has knowledge of the constructive work being done on many of our issues. Many of these committees welcome observers. Let us know if you are
interested. Reported by Joan Staples


What's new it's said we should know about

Depending on which way you look at it, seniors lucked out or again fail to pull their weight as a state Senate committee fails in April 2010 to pass return of seniors to half fare except those who qualify for circuit breaker tax relief. Actual seniors appear divided on the issue.

Advocates are now looking to replace the "poverty" index with an Economic Equity Index, by demographics and locales -- the numbers on "what it takes to get along" are not looking good, especially for seniors.

OWL says, May 2009:

National statistics show that one in four Americans has a diagnosable mental health disorder in any given year. Front line professionals can be key to assessing the mental health of older adults they come in contact with and making referrals for further assessment and treatment, if necessary. [Mental illness is not a normal part of the aging process, but the two can aggravate each other.]


From the Older Women's League Summer Fest 2009

Principal speaker Maurine Schenburger of the City of Chicago pedestrian program described the many services and protections/rights of seeing impaired persons, including those (and other-impaired) with service animals.

She then dealt with the vexing problem of snow removal in sidewalks, crosswalks and curb and to-door access, and the responsibilities of both residents an business owners/operators. She read from printouts of the City ordinance on the same (available from the city) and a doorknob hanger that is also available including through the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. (The latter, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, OWL, and likely the Disabilities Task Force are gearing up to distribute these, get out the word on calling 311 (which has a code on snow removal) to get snow and clearance where access is blocked on public way, and police removal. A community meeting is also being considered.)

Ms. Schenburger also gave information and led discussion on bicycle safety- for bicyclists and for those they encounter, including on approved safety and warning gear. This is also likely to be a major focus in conjunction with University orientation et al of the named organizations this fall. At the August HPKCC board meeting, all emphasized that the approach has to be comprehensive- safety and thoughtfulness for all using the public way.

Beyond "senior friendly": World Health Organization study on age friendly cities and active aging in cities, 2009

Factors to look at: economic, social, health and social services, physical environment, behavioral, personal

Components: transportation, housing, social, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and engagement, communication and information, community support and health services, and outdoor spaces and buildings.

The key phrase is life-enablement, beyond senior friendly, elder friendly, or barrier friendly. To get there, we have evaluate and ensure:

truly barrier-free buildings and streets

secure neighborhoods

community support and health services

ways to allow people to work or volunteer

Remember that as people age their abilities diminish-- and the range of capacity to live well within any demographic or age group broadens dramatically. Those who stay on the "able" side of the bar need ways to maintain their independence and prevent disability, those more on the "disabled" side need means to rehabilitation if possible and stabilization, and above all ensuring dignity and quality of life.

Staying in your home- nursing homes are not the only option- and how people can be helped to or while staying in their own home. Adapted from Streetwise Nov. 19 2008 and expanded by Gary Ossewaarde

These days the latter are mainly for those requiring 24 hour care, and most have in-between assisted care or transitional options.

Who can help you stay at home, and make that a quality experience? Illinois Department of Aging (IDoA) Community Care is one ( It's for those over 60 with up to $17,500 assets plus car and or home who need some homemaking care such as with cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, errand and personal care including medication supervision, and of course emergency response. It uses a Determination of Need scale (same as for disabled and young) with the goal of reducing institutionalization. Provided is up to 20 (normal is 10) hours of help a week. There are rigidities-- 4 hour blocks is not for everyone, and many need help more than once a day or on a weekend. And the rule that caregivers can't touch for many may be impractical (and impersonal) as well as an over reaction to obvious problems. A new law helps alleviate some of these drawbacks.

Several organizations work for improvement on a large scale, such as Jane Addams Senior Caucus. This group also helps landlords with seniors under the program take advantage of incentives to lower real estate taxes-as much as half. JASC also conducted petition drives for affordable housing and Section 8 preservation. Some organizations (including SOAR on the Near North) provide seniors with lists of stores and services (i.e. pharmacies, hardware, grocers) that deliver, and put these lists on their website- and does it ever get hits! and distributed to buildings .

There are now many "supportive" and "assisted living" homes in the city that are highly praised. Commercial providers include Partners in Senior Care. See in Helpline-Health, also Seniors.

On the less intensive side of "home living" is "NORC's"- Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities where people are aging in place in one or several buildings- about half are over 60 and but the buildings have not been "adapted" (Isn't this a definition of a lot of housing in Hyde Park?)-- Such a housing stock can be godsend or the next coming "big problem." Adapting them if needed might be expensive even if subsidized, thus reducing affordability. But many may be at just the right balance. It might be a good idea to identify and evaluate these in the community and let the people who might like such housing and are in reasonable shape know of those buildings that are in ideal balance between condition and attractiveness, affordability, and accessibility (including to shopping and transportation). Perhaps owners might be helped to find best practices to keep the buildings that way. A key barrier to seniors use of such housing may be height, the so-called "elevator threshold" plus costs of height such as facade, life-safety, and elevator mandates.

Beacon Hill ( is a membership (dues $500 to $800 a year) organization/club with ideas and initiatives that partner with agencies and businesses for discounted rates and services and other senior care. This includes escort or driving services to the doctor, store etc., deliveries, even handy- or trades persons. The sky seems to be limits, and some places are already providing these services to the less affluent under pilot programs, according to the boomer-senior research institute Civic Ventures. Some such might help increase the attractiveness and viability of the NORC's. Chicago associates are investigating a facility in or near Hyde Park.


GrandFamilies forms empowerment group in Hyde Park

Hyde Park Herald July 21, 2010. Hyde Park grandparents get boost. By Daschell M. Phillips

The GrandFamilies Program of Chicago has created five new grandparents empowerment groups across the city, including one in Hyde Park, to provide education and resources for grandparents raising their grandchildren. These programs are part of a national push for more legal and financial support for this growing population of families.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are more than 2.4 million children across the country living in grandparent-headed households. In Illinois, more than 210,000 children under the age of 18 are living with grandparents and in Chicago, more than 41,300.

Grandparent advocates throughout the state have been fighting for the rights of grandparent guardianship for many years. "We are one of the last two countries that don't have laws to help grandparents," said Adrian Mary Charniak, who leads a grandparent empowerment group at Rush Hospital in Oak Park.

Charniak took her grandson, who was born with cocaine in his system, about 12 years ago because her son and his wife were incapable of taking care of him. A few years after she began taking care of her grandson she hired a lawyer and paid for her son's divorce and for his right to have custody of her grandson so she could continue to take care of him. Charniak said she thought that after so many years of providing a stable home for her grandson she was legally protected but when her son died last yer, her ex-daughter-in-law began to fight for custody again.

"I've been to court 112 times because there are no laws in place supporting grandparents' rights," said Charniak, who has made it her mission to spare other grandparents the trials she has gone through by traveling throughout the state speaking at workshops, seeking donations of clothes, furniture another resources from church congregations and testifying about the plight of grandparents who raise grandchildren in Washington, D.C. in hopes that laws can be made to protect and support them.

So far, Charniak's work has helped with the passage of the Fostering Connections Law, which was signed Oct. 7, 2008, mandating that grandparents, aunts and uncles, be notified before a child goes to foster care. And she is also an advocate for creating a de facto law in Illinois "that once a child lives in a loving home with needs met for two or m ore years parents can't come back for custody of the kids unless grandparents can no longer take care of them or unless the parents can prove they are capable of taking care of the kids." "Some people just want their kids back so they can get public aid, and foster parents can get about $500 a month to take care of kids -- but no help is given to grandparents," Charniak said.

Having learned from many years of legal battles and financial constraints of grandparents across the country, Linette Kinchen, the founder and executive director of the GrandFamilies Program of Chicago, said the grandparent empowerment programs were developed to be much more than just a support group. "Traditionally, groups would get together have guest speakers and discuss challenges and issues," said Kinchen, who is still raising two of her three grandchildren that were placed in her care. "But now we've taken what we've learned over the years and created a curriculum, a toolkit and training guide."

The most important thing grandparents who are raising their grandchildren should remember is "you are not alone," said Cheryl Harvey Singleton, who is raising four of her grandsons and will be leading the Hyde Park grandparent empowerment group.

The Hyde Park Self-Help Educational group will meet once a month for 12 months and follow a curriculum that was created by the program in collaboration with Evanston, Ill.-based senior research organization Mather LifeWays. The curriculum will provide information and resources for grandparents about fining housing, managing finances, how to get healthcare, how to enroll children in school and interact with teachers and other resources available to them and their children. The adults in the empowerment program will also be taught how to form their won groups and educate other grandparents in their communities.

The Hyde Park Self-Help Educational Group will met every third Wednesday of each month from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m starting August 18 at Ellis Avenue Church at 5001 S. Ellis Ave. There will also be groups meeting in the Loop, Rush University Medical Center, the south suburbs, and Oak Park. For more information contact Cheryl Harvey Singleton at 1-888-GRAND-03 or visit



Complete Streets. Of interest to OWL and many others

Complete Street: The regional planning agency's Soles and Spokes division sent out notice of the following City of Chicago notification of policy on total accommodation on the public way:

The City of Chicago released a landmark Complete Streets Policy Oct. 10, mandating for the first time that all transportation users must be accommodated in all transportation projects. According to a multi-agency document issued by the city, the policy is expected to be implemented in a variety of ways advocated by Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and its Healthy Streets Campaign. The policy calls for pedestrian improvements like bulb-out curb extensions for crosswalks, countdown crossing signals, median refuges, and re-timing signals to minimize pedestrian delay and conflicts. To read more, visit And visit the AARP website.

Note that while the Task Force plans to address problems of bikes on sidewalks, rushing turns or through at intersections and without safety and warning gear, bike groups seem more interested in their interactions with cars and seek more bike trails along streets. See in Bike and City Bike Plan page.

From the mayor's Pedestrian Advisory Council presentation April 23, 2009. (T.Y. Lin, CDOT)

What: Designed, operated, maintained so they are safe, comfortable and convenient for all users- pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and motorists of all ages and abilities. Too many streets are built without the minimum accommodations, signing, or striping. Americans want to walk and bike more--55% prefer; 33% don't drive. 30% don't own a car; 21% are over 65; there are the children and Americans who cannot afford autos or choose not to have them. Yet many streets are not complete: sidewalks and crosswalks are nonexistent, out of code or in disrepair, streets uninviting to bicyclists, difficult to t cross on foot, or even inaccessible, have construction zones that don't take into account pedestrian challenges.

Policies. Design, operate and maintain the entire right of way to ensure safety and accessibility for all users.
"The safety and convenience of all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motor vehicle drivers, shall be accommodated and balanced in all types of transportation and development projects and through all phases of a project, so that even the most vulnerable - children, elderly, and persons with disabilities - can travel safety within the public right-of-way."

Why a policy? To update practices, integrating the needs of all street users into all phases of a project. To ensure every project becomes an opportunity to help create a complete street; to bring an overarching vision and consistency to disparate departmental approaches; To improve departmental efficiency and streamlining. Scope of Work:
Input from a steering committee (CDOT divisions, OEMC Operations, Community Development, Zoning and Land Use).
Interviews with key stakeholders (CTA, MOPD, D of Envir, Mayor's Bicycle Advisory, CMAP, Police, IDOT bureaus).
Prepare Preliminary Report of practices and recommendations on improving city processes, design manuals, education and training:
Prepare Final Implementation Process Report (issue-obstacles-opportunities, incorporate feedback and project audits, a checklist to be use in all projects all phases, recommend changes to standards-policies-practices-education.
Conduct audits of recent projects-- were all user's needs accommodated?, review of preliminary planning documents, field visits, field reviews.


Some new resources

Suggested for a look or to follow: PBS' new website for 50s+ "defining a new lifestyle" - Next Avenue.

CMS Launches Physicians Compare Website

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) launched a new feature in their Healthcare Provider Directory at "Physicians Compare" expands CMS' site by adding new information about physicians and healthcare workers so Medicare beneficiaries can more easily learn about Medicare-participating doctors.

HHS Announces Regulations that will bring Transparency to Health Insurance Rate Increases

After a decade of hefty health insurance premium increases, Americans will now be protected from excessive and unjustified premium hikes under the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act will:
•Give states $250 million towards enhancing rate review procedures
•Require health insurance companies to publicly justify any unreasonable premium increases
Learn more about the new procedures and view HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' video explaining them at: (Scroll down to the entry on December 21st by Stephanie Cutter.)

National Institute of Health Offers Websites Focused on Older Adults

The National Institute of Health (NIH) in conjunction with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) has started a new website focused on health issues that affect older people. NIHSeniorHealth features easily accessible information on health topics such as Alzheimer's disease, ways to exercise properly and safe use of medicine. To improve usability for older adults, the website features short, easy-to-read segments available in large-print, audio versions and open-captioned videos.

One new topic addressed on the website is anxiety disorders among older adults. NIHSeniorHealth's page on anxiety disorders features information on risk factors, symptoms and treatments, and detailed information on specific phobias like obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, fear of flying and fear of public speaking.

Anxiety caused by stressful events like losing a job is a normal part of life. Anxiety disorders occur when these stresses become persistent, excessive and disabling and get progressively worse if untreated. Anxiety disorders affect between 3 and 14 percent of older adults. NIH's website helps provide older adults with easily accessible information that is pertinent to them.

Visit NIH's Senior Health page here:

Visit NIH's Senior Health page on anxiety disorders here:

Federal Programs Help Elderly in Need of Energy Assistance

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) help elderly, disabled and low-income households in need of energy assistance. LIHEAP provides states with grants to assist needy individuals and families with their fuel bill during winter months. By making homes more energy efficient, WAP helps reduce heat loss in homes and conserve energy costs permanently.

As of June 2010, over 108,000 homes across the nation had been made more energy efficient. Together, families saved over $47 million on their energy bills. Seniors received special consideration in many states. In Minnesota, about 17,000 households are expected to receive weatherization work by March 2012 for residents at or below 200% of the poverty level. Households with at least one elderly or disabled member will receive priority. Thirty-nine percent of households assisted by LIHEAP included a member of the household who was age 60 or older.

Congress will allocate funds to these programs in the 2011 budget. To learn more about LIHEAP and WAP, read this document created by Wider Opportunities for Women.

Maturing in Illinois January 2011 report reduced summary. View whole in pdf.

Highlights of the Maturing of Illinois Report Executive Summary

Summary by Gary Ossewaarde

The theme is creating a livable community, which maximizes independence, safety, inclusion, and choice.

A livable community provides:
• Coordinated points of entry / guidance to services
• Access to health support services
• Housing that is appropriate and accessible
• Physical environment that is adjusted for inclusiveness and accessibility
• Work, volunteer and lifetime learning opportunities
• Encouragement for participation in artistic, cultural, social and recreational activities

Some programs are in place or could be utilized in most parts of the state, particularly those of the “Supportive Living Program” such as for housing (Circuit Breaker), transit incl. Dial-A-Ride, and lifelong learning—Community Colleges Presidents Lead Inter-Generational Effort (see the Interdependence of Generations Report).

What’s lacking?
• Geriatricians
• Affordable housing
• Assisted transportation esp. to medical services
• Special Needs tracing for emergencies

• A common statewide branding system so the elderly can recognize, understand, and find the right and safe services for their circumstances
• Federal enactment of the Livable Communities Act S1619 and funding of the Livable Communities provisions of the Older Americans Act.
• Maintain Healthy Aging programs including the long-term sustainability of evidence-based health programs
• Increase the number of gerontologists and the knowledge/practice of the subject by physicians. (2 of 3 at age 65 have at least one chronic ailment, 1 in 5 five or more.)
One path for this increase: Title V of the Affordable Care Act
• Housing: Fund affordable housing in general and specifically supportive living facilities. Move toward Universal Design in all new and retrofitted housing.
• Transportation: Driver safety education is the number one effective priority, utilizing the AARP class- it works. (
• Workforce and Economic Development: Use community colleges, universities, school districts.
• Land Use: Work with American Planning Assn. etc. to implement their database of best practices.
• Public Safety: Sidewalks et al and lighting are the first fronts.
• Emergency Preparedness: Implement Special Needs Tracking.
• Recreation: Build year-round walking and fitness facilities near [that can be gotten to?]
• Lifelong Education: Give the opportunities Illinois’ seniors most want.
• Civic Engagement: Intergenerational activities and opportunities for seniors to use and be recognized for their abilities and contributions are number one. Recommended is using and keeping the momentum going of Generations Serving Generations 2010—The Year of the Engaged Older Adult.

The full report has a large number of exhaustive questions that can be used evaluate for each category or service above, how well our community and municipality does to provide / be a livable community that maximizes independence, safety, inclusion, and choice.