SPRINGFIELD – Older Illinoisans would have a better understanding of the state programs and resources available to them, even without easy access to the internet, under legislation proposed by State Senator Adriane Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove).

04202021CM0254“I’ve spoken to countless older neighbors who don’t have a computer or smartphone, or who simply aren’t comfortable navigating the internet,” Johnson said. “When events and services went digital during the pandemic, these Illinoisans were overlooked. Moving forward, we have to ensure no one is left out of the loop.”

The measure would require recipients of home-delivered meals to receive an annual fact sheet developed by the Department on Aging with a current list of toll-free numbers to access information on various health conditions, elder abuse and programs for seniors. Recipients would also receive updates on any new programs for older adults.

About 12 million meals were delivered to over 144,000 older adults in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, when congregate dining sites were closed, according to the Illinois Association of Area Agencies on Aging. The lack of in-person interaction during the pandemic interrupted traditional communication channels for many older adults, who as a result missed out on important service updates and opportunities.

“These fact sheets can be filed away, kept near the phone or hung on the fridge,” Johnson said. “Distributing resources in print makes it easier for older community members to keep toll-free phone numbers and other helpful information close at hand.”

House Bill 32 passed the Senate Saturday with bipartisan support.