Wheeling Township Helps Seniors to 'Age in Place'
More and more of today's seniors are planning to 'age in place' and remain in their own homes, instead of moving to senior living facilities. For some, it's the desire to remain in a cherished, familiar place, while staying independent and engaged in their local community. For others, it could be that they can't afford to move to a retirement facility. Whatever the reason, doing this successfully requires planning, support, and forward-thinking. Wheeling Township concurs; these programs are part of the Township's long-standing objectives, which include providing services for seniors who wish to age in place.
Data obtained from the recently published American Community Survey shows that Wheeling Township has the largest population of residents over 60, out of all 29 Cook County Townships.
So what does this mean for Wheeling Township's seniors? "Lots of attention and services for seniors are available through the Township," said Wheeling Township Supervisor Kathy Penner, "We are focused on assisting them in a variety of ways."
Programs and services seniors may find beneficial include:
Assessor's Office: Seniors may apply for and/or update senior citizen property tax exemptions and the senior freeze. Senior veterans may also apply for disabled veteran exemptions.
General Assistance: Seniors dealing with serious financial constraints can meet with the General Assistance department to determine eligibility for the Food Pantry, Mobile Dental Clinic (reduced cost basic dental care), SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance program), and Emergency Assistance.
Transportation: Wheeling Township's Transportation Department provides more than 23,000 rides annually. Rides are available for medical appointments and trips to places such as grocery stores, hair salons and others. Seniors over 60 (and disabled residents over 18) are eligible to use Wheeling Township transportation for a nominal charge of $2 each way. "We provide a crucial link for residents who are no longer driving, are in wheelchairs, or would otherwise be unable to easily and safely get around," Supervisor Penner said. "Our drivers are compassionate and caring, which is the heart of this program's success."
Meals on Wheels: Nutrition is an essential aspect for seniors to stay healthy, and Wheeling Township's home-delivered meals program can help. Hot, freshly prepared meals are delivered mid-day, Monday-Friday, right to the door of the recipient by a friendly volunteer. This service is available for a low cost to seniors and adults with permanent disabilities who qualify. A home assessment is required, and participation in the program is subject to availability on a route.
Support Groups: For seniors living who have low vision, or for those who find themselves caregiving to a loved one with Alzheimer's, the Township has two support groups that meet on a monthly basis. Both groups allow members to share ideas, listen to guest speakers, socialize and offer each other support.
Through its dedication to providing services to seniors, whether by helping them maintain their independence, sustain their health, or by offering critical assistance during times of need, Wheeling Township continues to make a significant difference in the community, as it has since 1850.