State of Illinois holds fate of thousands of seniors in its hands

by Joyce Duriga

CHICAGO (CNS) — On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Willie Beasley, 90, didn’t want to get on the bus taking her home from Accolade Adult Day Care Services in Oak Park.

The nonagenarian, who suffers from dementia, was enjoying herself too much to want to leave, according to her daughter and caregiver, Ann Rainey, who will be 71 in June.

“She’s enjoying her life. Let’s put it that way. It’s an enjoyment for her to go there,” Rainey said.

Operated by Catholic Charites of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Accolade is part of the statewide Community Care Program funded by state and federal contracts. Since the Illinois budget impasse that began last year, the state-funded portion of the program, which includes the adult day care centers, case management and home health aides, has gone largely unfunded. When state funds do come in, it’s only about 40 percent of what is owed.

Catholic Charities serves more than 25,000 seniors in Cook and Lake counties under this program and says 80 percent of those people are at risk of going into a nursing home within six months if these services are cut.

Rainey agreed, saying without Accolade, she would have to put her mother in a nursing home.

“I just couldn’t make it without it. It’s very important to us that we have something like Accolade or something similar,” she told the Catholic New World, the archdiocesan newspaper. “They keep her going all day. She comes in and she tries to tell me about it, but most of it you don’t understand.”

Since Beasley began going to the Catholic Charities-run center a year ago, she has been a changed person.

“She is about 100 percent different because we were sitting around here [at home],” her daughter said. “I would put on the TV for her. And she just came and told me, ‘I don’t want to sit here and die like this.'”

If these services were cut, the burden would fall to the taxpayer, said Msgr. Michael Boland, president and CEO of Catholic Charities for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“The Community Care Program costs the state less than $10,000 per year per participant, versus $30,000 or more for nursing home care. The cost savings are evident,” he said. “But more important, it is about the quality and dignity of human life. Everyone deserves to age at their home if they are able to and this program provides that necessary support.”

The purpose of the Community Care Program is to keep people in the community at a lower cost for a long as possible, said Mary Ann Bibat, vice president of Catholic Charities Senior Services.

In addition to activities such as yoga and crafts, the day care centers provide meals to the clients, help with toileting needs and offer services like licensed nursing care to administer medication.

Often the clients are being cared for by family members who have to work. The day care centers provide a safe place for them to be during the day.

“Many of them would be home alone all day if it wasn’t for the center. They would just be sitting in front of the television,” Bibat said.

The centers also offer improved quality of life.

“She’s enjoying her life,” Rainey said of her mom. “I don’t know what we’d do without it.”

Copyright ©2016 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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