— AARP is here to help you take on today – and every day. From sharing practical resources, to holding fun activities and events, AARP is providing opportunities to connect and help build an even stronger Illinois for all ages to live, work and play. We hope you’ll join us!

— AARP Illinois will participate in a Grandparents Day celebration on Friday, Aug. 10, at Crest Hill Library, 20670 Len Kubinski Drive, in Crest Hill, about 40 miles southwest of Chicago. Grandparents and their grandchildren can celebrate from 10 a.m.-noon with an ice cream social, face painting, crafts and more. AARP Illinois is providing the ice cream. This free, fun-filled, kid-friendly event is an example of AARP’s commitment to communities and families throughout the state. To be sure there’s enough ice …

— AARP is offering classes in Peoria to help central Illinois residents use smartphones and tablets more effectively. The courses can help members and their guests take better photos and use their devices to keep in touch with family and friends or search for jobs online. Advanced iPhone and iPad is Thursday, May 17, 5-7 p.m., and Digital Photography and Your iPhone will be Thursday, June 7, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The classes are free, but registration is required. For details and …

— The holidays are coming, and this could be a perfect time to learn how to capture special moments with a smartphone camera. AARP Illinois is offering a two-hour course on smartphone photography on Friday, Oct. 27, in Peoria. Participants will learn how to take and organize great pictures and safely share them with family and friends. The class begins at 10 a.m. at the Proctor Center Auditorium, 309 S. DuSable St. The event is free, but space is limited and …

— By Kelly Soderlund In a boost for family caregivers who work outside the home, a new state law allows employees to use their existing sick leave benefits to care for their loved ones. The Eligible Leave for Employee Caregiving Time (ELECT) law went into effect in January and applies to both paid and unpaid personal sick leave. It allows workers to use a portion of their annually available personal sick leave for family caregiving responsibilities. That could help some of …

— State lawmakers recently passed the Employee Sick Leave Act, which allows family caregivers to use up to half of their sick leave benefits at work to take time off for a family member’s illness, injury or medical appointments. AARP Illinois was the leading advocate for the new law, which will take effect Jan. 1. More than 1.5 million Illinoisans are family caregivers, and many struggle to balance their paid work with the responsibilities of caring for a sick parent, spouse, …

— Both chambers of the General Assembly have passed a bill that would allow workers who are also family caregivers to use up to six months of accrued sick leave annually to care for their loved ones. AARP Illinois supports the bill and is urging Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) to sign it into law. About 1.6 million Illinoisans are family caregivers, and about 60 percent of caregivers nationwide also work outside the home. Among Illinois workers, 56 percent have some paid …

— By Lisa Bertagnoli Three times in her life, Chris Damon has served as a caregiver to loved ones. “I know what a challenge it is,” said Damon, 66, executive director of CareSmart Illinois, a Wadsworth-based nonprofit that provides support to older adults, adults with physical and cognitive challenges, and their caregivers. “With so many caregivers, their parents are discharged, and they don’t know what to do,” Damon said. “They’ve never been involved, and many hospitals haven’t wanted to involve family …

— 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,” …

— In addition to a string of laws and amendments going into effect at the start of the New Year, the SNAP gross income limit in Illinois increased from 130 percent to 165 percent of the federal poverty level. This means an estimated 40,000 low-income working families will be eligible for SNAP benefits. SNAP is a federal program that combats food insecurity and poverty, allowing participants to spend money on nutritionally valued food that they wouldn’t have the chance to purchase …

— An estimated 2 million people 65 and older will live in Chicago, Cook County and six surrounding counties by 2030. The Lifetime Livable Communities Collaborative, a group of Chicago-area nonprofit organizations convened by AARP Illinois, aims to steer public policy to address the needs of this growing segment of the population. AARP, the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Union League Club of Chicago are hosting a summit Oct. 5 to draw attention to the needs of older residents when planning …