George Goodwin in action, during this year's Active Senior Expo at Chicago Gaelic Park in Oak Forest.

For the second consecutive year, a volunteer from Illinois has received the highest recognition from AARP Driver Safety, which runs the nation’s largest safe-driving course. George Goodwin, who hails from Downers Grove, a suburb just west of Chicago, received the prestigious Michael Seaton National Volunteer of the Year Award, named after the founder of the AARP Driver Safety program in 1979. Goodwin was selected from AARP Driver Safety’s volunteer force of over 4,200 dedicated individuals throughout all 50 states, the …

Civic engagement from BRC

As part of the Independent Map Amendment campaign, AARP Illinois is backing a proposed constitutional amendment that would make the process of drawing legislative districts nonpartisan and transparent. “With the state mired in a budget crisis, it’s critical that citizens have the ability to elect their representatives, rather than the other way around,” said Bob Gallo, AARP state director. “Under the current process, politicians are gerrymandering districts to choose constituents who will keep them in office.” In 2014, 82 of …

Always together

By Demetrius M. Maraganore, MD We’ve spent several months on this blog discussing brain health as it relates to preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Since April marks National Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, I’d like to “branch out” and emphasize that preserving brain health can minimize your risk for multiple neurodegenerative diseases. There are approximately one million Americans living with Parkinson’s disease (PD), and at least another one million who are caring for someone with PD. I’ve spent much of my career treating and …

keep calm

Some seniors remember celebrating when the Chicago Blackhawks—the most unlikely of the National Hockey League contenders in 1938—captured the Stanley Cup: It was April 12. Many more seniors recall the hoopla on April 12, 1983, when Harold Washington became Chicago’s first black mayor. This year, April 12 marks another historic milestone, but hardly one to celebrate. It’s Equal Pay Day, marking the day when the average woman’s income—in addition to her 2015 wages—finally matches the amount the average man earned …

Ryan Gruenenfelder says a new state law will enable him to monitor his grandmother Rita Stoecker’s care.

By Jackie Spinner Illinois has two new laws that will help the most vulnerable older residents in the state: people at risk of wandering off and those living in nursing facilities. A law that went into effect in January allows surveillance cameras to be installed in the rooms of long-term care facilities’ residents, making Illinois only the fifth state in the country to offer seniors and disabled adults this added protection against neglect and abuse. “This was a groundbreaking law,” …

Very high resolution 3d rendering of an human brain.

In last month’s blog post, I addressed the impact of genetic risk in developing Alzheimer’s disease. In this post, I explain the importance of genetic testing, and how hope is NOT lost, should you have a higher risk genetic profile. Studies show that when people start showing signs of early Alzheimer’s, medical and lifestyle interventions have only modest, if any benefit; however, the same interventions applied before onset of brain changes could have profound benefit. The healthcare field is focused …

1140-caregiver-appriciated-patient.imgcache.rev1452027309173.web

Family caregivers make sacrifices daily to ensure their loved ones receive the necessary care and attention required to help them continue to live independently. Working caregivers face additional stress when attempting to balance work and the demands associated with caregiving, some even coming to the decision to leave work to care for a loved one. The Eligible Leave for Employee Caregiving Time (ELECT) bill filed in the Illinois House of Representatives on February 11 would allow for working caregivers to …

taxes-300x199

The refund that flows from a properly prepared tax return can be a windfall for someone living on a fixed income and facing rising health care costs. AARP Illinois encourages members to take advantage of AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, which last year helped more than 82,000 Illinoisans file more than 55,000 tax returns at 201 sites across the state. The program—which has assisted more than 50 million U.S. taxpayers since 1968—is open to everyone, although priority is given to taxpayers age …

iStock_000006030247Large (1)

Consumers need to be extra cautious if they receive an email seeming to be from the Social Security Administration. Not only are fraudulent emails with malicious links offering “new features” to monitor finances floating around, but new emails urging consumers to create a My Social Security account are making the rounds. The Social Security Administration has issued an alert on their site to be on the lookout for email phishing and AARP Illinois is helping to warn people of the new scam. …

Statistically speaking, one in five women and one in ten men will get Alzheimer’s in their lifetime; however, certain individuals have a higher genetic risk. Your lifetime risk for Alzheimer’s disease can be as low as 5%, but as high as 70%, depending on your APOE genotype. Common variations in a gene called apolipoprotein E, or APOE, are highly correlated to risk of Alzheimer’s disease. People with the highest risk for the disease begin to accumulate brain changes as early …