Report: Technological assistance, cultural support among top needs for suburban seniors

  • Roselle Public Library is hosting a book discussion on "Stamped" by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. The book examines the history of racism in America, and hope for an anti-racist future.

    Roselle Public Library is hosting a book discussion on "Stamped" by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. The book examines the history of racism in America, and hope for an anti-racist future.

  • Daily Herald Diversity Editor Madhu Krishnamurthy

    Daily Herald Diversity Editor Madhu Krishnamurthy

  • Jan Zheng

    Jan Zheng

Updated 5/17/2021 11:10 AM

Technology issues and a need for better access to services are common themes in a new report identifying the top needs of older adults in Northeastern Illinois.

After listening sessions and surveys covering its eight-county service area, Lombard-based nonprofit AgeGuide, the Northeastern Illinois Agency on Aging, found the top challenges facing older adults are access to and help navigating technology, social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, lack of cultural support and services in languages other than English, and demand for more home delivered meals and congregate dining sites.


The agency's coverage area includes DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties -- home to more than 700,000 people 60 years and older.

"We do this every three years as part of our planning process," said Gretchen Knowlton, manager of planning, advocacy and program development. "This year, we really wanted to make sure that we were capturing diverse communities' input as well, from low-income, nonwhite, non-English speaking populations, and underserved communities."

The agency held more than two dozen virtual listening sessions with 250 participants and surveyed 450 seniors. It also partnered with the Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly to reach those populations.

"We also had translations available in six languages most common according to the census for our region -- Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Polish, Russian and Spanish," Knowlton said.

Participants were: 25% nonwhite, 11% Asian, 7% Black, 3% Latino, 82% female, 4% identified as other for gender, 19% speakers of a language other than English at home, 27% who lived alone and 11% who were caregivers of older adults.

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Roughly 9% of older adults living in the region speak a language other than English, according to census data.

AgeGuide provides information and referrals, healthy aging options (recreational activities, health screenings, educational programs), and services for caregiver support, counseling and mental health, nutrition, transportation, legal, veterans, housing and abuse prevention.

"Language and cultural barriers are playing a role in the use and access to the services that we provide," Knowlton said, adding that there is a need for outreach to ethnic and cultural communities that are more reluctant seeking help.

Book discussion

Roselle Public Library will host a virtual discussion on May 25 for teens on the book "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You" by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi.

Reynolds, National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, distills Kendi's National Book Award-winning adult book, "Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America," for teen readers.


The first 20 people who register get a free copy of the book. The discussion begins at 4:30 p.m. and is open to seventh- through 12th-graders. Register for the session by 9 p.m. May 24 at

The library also is sponsoring a virtual Q&A with Newbery-winning author Kwame Alexander on his picture book, "The Undefeated," at 6 p.m. June 2. It is open to children 8 years and older. Families who participated in one of the book discussions about "The Undefeated" automatically will be registered.

Both events are funded by a Healing Illinois grant and the Chicago Community Trust. The Healing Illinois initiative aims to engage residents of communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in meaningful dialogue about racial disparities and help design local solutions. Roselle Public Library received $8,000 as part of grants awarded to 86 nonprofits statewide.

AAPI heritage

The city of Aurora is hosting a celebration in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 23, at Pacifica Square, jointly with Windfall Group and the Chinese American Association at Greater Chicago.

The month, observed annually in May, celebrates the contributions of generations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to American history, society and culture.

The Asian population in Naperville and Aurora is about 15% and 8%, respectively.

The second phase of development of Aurora's Pacifica Square at 4300-4462 E. New York St. aims to create a vibrant, multicultural, one-stop Asian-chic lifestyle center combining shopping, leisure, business, entertainment, food, service and living.

Known as the suburbs' Chinatown, the development is expected to increase the region's Asian population and create new jobs and business opportunities, said Jan Zheng of Naperville, president of the Chinese American Association of Greater Chicago.

"Pacifica Square is creating a community-knit, mixed-use development that stands out along Route 59, the most profitable commercial corridor for both the city of Aurora and Naperville," Zheng said. "Pacifica Square currently offers unique, local, un-chain-like, authentic, Asian-flavored businesses."

Sunday's event features restaurants serving Asian food, live cultural dancing and singing performances by various Asian groups, calligraphy, origami, paper-cutting art, lion dance and a kung fu martial art performance.

Supporting Latino education

The National Latino Education Institute, a nonprofit education institution dedicated to advancing the Latino workforce, will host its inaugural Swing to Support Latinx Futures golf classic on July 27, at Cantigny Golf Club in Wheaton.

"In our 20th year of service, NLEI remains strong and committed to our mission of advancing the economic independence of our Latinx community," Executive Director Elba Aranda-Suh said.

"This event will support the important work that we do, especially as our economy recovers from the financial and employment impacts of COVID."

The event begins at 9 a.m. with a shotgun start at 10:30 a.m. at the golf club, 27w270 Mack Road. It will feature on-course hospitality, lunch, drinks and contests for a hole-in-one to win a new car, longest drive and closest to the pin. Proceeds will support the institute's education, training, employment and advocacy initiatives.

Interested sponsors and foursomes can register at

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