Interest in elderly leads to appointment

By on July 17, 2010

by Paula Coughlan
MAPLE PARK—Jennifer Franck of Maple Park loves the elderly, having worked in nursing-homes and rehabilitation facilities. That interest led her to apply for a vacant position on the Northeastern Illinois Area Agency on Aging (NIAAA) Advisory Council.

The NIAAA appointed Franck to the Advisory Council in June and she can’t wait to get started.

“There are so many things we can try and things we can offer to the elderly to help them,” Franck said. “I’m so excited about it.”

Franck’s enthusiasm about helping seniors is what the NIAAA looks for in Advisory Council representatives.

“Our volunteers are very dedicated,” NIAAA public relations director Loretta Cowhig said.

The Advisory Council representatives are volunteers from eight counties, two each for small counties and three each for larger counties such as Kane. Franck will represent Elburn and Maple Park.

Advisory Council representatives advise the NIAAA board on senior citizen issues in their area, Cowhig said. Representatives also get out the message on aging services that are available and serve on committees that prioritize senior programs for funding and support legislation for the elderly, among other tasks.

In addition, Advisory Council representatives keep informed on local news affecting the elderly, look into issues and report back to their committees with what they have learned and suggestions they have.

Franck feels that rural people don’t always realize how much help is out there for them and often are more isolated from services they need. She’s hoping she’ll be able to bridge this gap for seniors in her area.

To find people like Franck to serve as Advisory Council representatives, the NIAAA board announces vacancies through the media and word of mouth.

“We’ve been very fortunate in that we usually have more applicants than vacancies,” Cowhig said.

Franck is an avid newspaper reader and zeroes in on issues involving the elderly, she said. In fact, Franck heard of the Advisory Council representative opening through an announcement in the Elburn Herald.

Franck’s own health issues, including surgeries and some physical problems, help her to understand what other seniors might be going through, she said.

An upcoming event that Franck will be involved in is the Senior Lifestyle Expo, which will be held at Drury Lane in OakBrook Terrace Aug. 24-25.

People who have questions or concerns about senior citizen issues may contact the NIAAA through its website: or call (800) 800-528-2000.