Every community has a responsibility to care for its most vulnerable members. Often, that means providing assistance for senior citizens. Older residents commonly require help and support with such daily tasks as cooking, shopping, and transportation, all of which can be made more challenging due to physical or mental infirmity.
Ohio has numerous resources to help seniors with day-to-day tasks, financial management, legal obligations, and more. Several additional services for seniors have arisen in response to COVID-19.
The need for senior-focused services in Ohio is expected to continue to grow. The number of Ohioans aged 60 and over will account for 26% of the state’s population by 2030, according to the Ohio Department on Aging.
The Needs of Ohio Seniors
Older Ohio residents face a number of acute needs. Some stem from socioeconomic circumstances, others from geographic isolation. Additional needs may result from illness or physical disability.
Even where services for seniors exist, they aren’t always accessed as often as they should be. Many seniors simply don’t know about the different social support services that are available.
Issues Faced by Ohio Seniors
Here is just a partial list of the issues faced by older residents of Ohio.
- Limited financial resources. Retired Ohioans may live on fixed incomes. Social Security payments or income from a retirement savings account may not be enough to keep up with living expenses.
- Transportation barriers. Physical disability may prevent some elderly Ohioans from being able to drive; meanwhile, those who live in rural areas may lack easy access to public transportation services.
- High housing costs. In addition to their limited financial means, many seniors must also contend with high housing costs, whether they’re in private homes or in senior living facilities.
- Caregiver workforce shortages. While many older Ohioans require regular assistance with personal hygiene, household tasks, and medical support, qualified caregivers can be in short supply, especially in smaller cities or rural areas.
- Chronic health conditions. Seniors may struggle with diabetes, chronic pain, or a range of other health issues often associated with aging. These health concerns may impair mobility and also lead to increased spending on health services.
- Mental health and addiction. Similarly, seniors in Ohio may suffer from dementia, depression, anxiety, PTSD, or drug or alcohol addiction.
Government Services for Seniors
To help seniors address these various issues, government agencies in Ohio offer a number of services. Residents should know that these support services are available.
Ohio Department of Aging
The Ohio Department of Aging, a state agency, focuses on filling the gaps that exist with regard to services for seniors. Some of the specific services and programs offered by the Ohio Department of Aging include those listed here.
- Assisted living waiver program
- Elder justice
- Grants to local nonprofits that serve seniors
- Health and safety classes
- Ombudsman advocacy for those in nursing or home care
- Work training program
To learn more about the services offered by the Ohio Department of Aging, visit their online resource center, which includes useful information about senior care and senior living.
Area Agency on Aging
Seniors who live in Central Ohio may access services through the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging. Some of the primary offerings of this organization include the following.
- Call centers that help connect seniors with other resources or services in the area
- Services for seniors that include personal care, adult day service, homemaker services, meal delivery, and transportation
The Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging is operated by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department but also receives support from a number of local businesses and organizations. Their service area encompasses Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway, and Union counties. Additional information is available from the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging.
Some of Ohio’s major cities support their seniors with a range of localized resources. Consider a couple of examples.
- Cleveland provides nutrition, health, living, and transportation assistance programs. Additional information can be found at the city of Cleveland senior services website.
- Westlake also offers a number of services for seniors, including COVID-specific ones such as curbside food pickup, transportation services, and virtual (Zoom) activities. Learn more at the city of Westlake website.
Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board
Some counties in Ohio have established advisory groups to help members of the community who are battling drug or alcohol addiction, both of which are common among seniors. For example, consider some of the resources made available by the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board of Franklin County.
Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program
Between physical and mental health conditions and limited income streams, some Ohio seniors face prohibitive medical costs. Older Ohioans have multiple ways to access health insurance. The Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) offers a range of services, including access to virtual counselors who can explain the options for enrollment in Medicare and other public health insurance programs.
More information is available at the OSHIIP website.
Seniors in Ohio should also be aware of a few COVID-specific resources that are available to them.
- Ohio Department of Health, Get Tested for COVID-19. View an up-to-date directory of coronavirus testing sites throughout the state.
- Ohio Department of Health, How You Can Prevent and Prepare. Check out general information about coronavirus prevention in Ohio.
- Ohio Department of Aging, “Staying Connected Check-in Service.” Seniors can sign up for this service to receive regular check-in calls, enabling them to stay plugged into the world around them.
Community Services for Seniors
Along with government agencies, a number of nonprofit organizations and businesses provide services for seniors in communities throughout Ohio. Consider just a few examples.
AARP Foundation Offices
The AARP Foundation seeks to address poverty among seniors. The organization helps older adults improve their economic mobility by providing them with skills, resources, and greater opportunities for social connection.
Check out the AARP Foundation website to learn more about their services in grantmaking, legal advocacy, and more.
The Easterseals organization advocates for the well-being of families and individuals who face disabilities of different types. This includes assistance to seniors and their families. Ohio has multiple Easterseals locations, which provide services such as adult day care and in-home care, plus ombudsman advocacy.
Meals on Wheels
A common concern among seniors is basic nutrition. Some seniors lack either the financial means or the transportation required to secure good, nutritious groceries or hearty meals. Some no longer can cook for themselves. Meals on Wheels operates in communities throughout Ohio, delivering healthy meals directly to the seniors who need them. Some Meals on Wheels locations can arrange home repair services or transportation to medical appointments.
Additional information about these services for seniors can be found at the Meals on Wheels website.
Seniors who need legal assistance may be able to find pro bono arrangements through organizations such as the following.
- Pro Seniors, which provides legal and ombudsman advocacy
- Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), which offers legal services for low-income, elderly, and otherwise vulnerable adults
Vantage Aging provides a number of services for seniors in Ohio.
- Workforce solutions and career pathways
- Behavioral health services
- Home wellness programming
Additionally, Vantage Aging partners with Meals on Wheels to ensure sound nutritional services for its clients. More details are available at the Vantage Aging website.
Community Health Centers
Throughout Ohio, numerous community health centers provide medical care for low-income and at-risk populations, including seniors. Additional information can be found at the Ohio Association of Community Health Centers directory.
COVID-19 Resources for Seniors
Other community services for seniors have emerged during the pandemic. Listed below are a couple of noteworthy examples.
- Food delivery programs. A number of local grocery stores, as well as meal delivery services such as DoorDash, have partnered to provide free food delivery to seniors who need it.
- Telehealth services. These services offered by local physicians and practices enable seniors to receive medical care without risking coronavirus exposure.
Discover More About Local Services for Seniors
Older individuals may have a number of acute needs, ranging from financial, medical, and day-to-day. Meeting these needs can be challenging. However, Ohio offers a number of helpful services for seniors, including government-run and private/community-based options.
To help make Ohio more vibrant and its elderly population healthier, make sure you know all about these options, and pass them along to anyone who might benefit from them.