An area program is working to help older adults stay in their homes

Elderly residents in Butler County are getting the support they need to stay in their homes rather than being forced to consider alternatives thanks to the county’s Elderly Services Program, officials said.

A network of local assets helps reinforce that option of staying in the home, which most people hope to be able to do for as long as possible. .

“You have a lot of really good assets here,” Ken Wilson, vice president for program operations with the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio, recently told Oxford’s city council.

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“There is the Senior Center with great services. The Adult Day Center. Many communities do not have that. The Knolls of Oxford. The Scripps Gerontology Center. A local hospital. The city makes the effort to be an age-friendly community.”

He said the Council on Aging conducted an assessment of needs which found greatest needs in the areas of housing, transportation and workforce shortage issues, which mirrors some of the work being done locally.

In the program’s annual report, Cynthia Stever, president of the Butler County Citizens for Elderly Services, writes the service helped 3,804 older adults in 2017 with services which allowed them to remain in their homes, such as home-delivered meals, transportation and home care assistance.

“Other counties in our region offer similar services, but we stand out in one area — mental health services,” Stever writes. “Since 2007, a program called Uplift has provided home treatment for Butler County older adults suffering from depression and anxiety. Many participants are Elderly Services Program clients. The program is one of Uplift’s top referral sources.”

She also notes Elderly Services Program care managers are in an ideal position to identify and refer seniors to Uplift and other community resources.

Wilson said efforts to keep seniors in their homes as long as possible not only helps to stave off some of those kinds of issues but is also a much more economical alternative to moving them into nursing homes.

“ESP helps residents of Butler County over 65 who are unable to perform daily living activities we take for granted until we are no longer able to do them,” Wilson said. “In a nursing home, they lose contact to the community they love. A nursing home has a greater cost to taxpayers.”

The original Elderly Services tax levy appeared on the ballot in 1996 and had been renewed several times since with the 2015 renewal approved with about 65 percent of the vote. It costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $39 a year, he said.

The need will only expand in the future, Wilson said.

“About 19 percent of Butler County residents are over 60, according to the census and Scripps Gerontology Center. By 2030, that will be nearly a quarter of the population,” he said.

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