Thursday, November 16, 2000

Warren Co. seniors plead for more help

Expanded services is theme at Council on Aging hearing

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Hundreds of Warren County residents, many older folks aided by wheelchairs, walkers and each other, turned out Wednesday to attest to the need for more government services to help them remain independent.

        “Care is excellent here, no question about it,” said Mason resident Byron Seales, 78, whose wife, Mary, receives aid from Community Services. “But more people need help.”

        The Southwest Ohio Council on Aging sponsored the public hearing to discuss the need for more money for in-home services.

        Community Services, the primary provider in Warren County, has a waiting list of 229 people, which translates to several months.

        The Council on Aging also has proposed an elderly services program to coordinate county efforts.

        Warren County devotes about half as much money per senior citizen as surrounding counties, according to a study by the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University.

        An estimated $700,000 to $1.2 million extra is needed annually, the Council on Aging says, with possible sources including the county commissioners' general fund or a levy for senior services.

        Warren is the only county with the Council on Aging that doesn't have such a levy.

        “Now it's just a hodgepodge of services,” said Harold Hunt, social service supervisor with the county's Human Services Department. “We need one reliable source of support.”

        County Administrator Bob Price attended the meeting but said he had no comment.

        Residents and those who provide in-home care detailed the need for more help with bathing, housekeeping and, especially, transportation.

        “I see these people who can't get out gradually get very depressed and lonely,” said Waynesville resident Barbara Rose, who is concerned about neighbors who no longer share her ability to drive.

        Many also talked about the importance of respite services such as adult day care to help those who have taken responsibility for their ailing relatives.

        “Families are doing a tremendous job, but sometimes they need a break with that job,” said Karen Hill, an official with Otterbein, a nursing home.

        Dee Herrin, 70, of Franklin Township expressed her gratitude to Community Services for helping her older sister stay at home after a stroke last year.

        “Being her only caretaker, I was terrified how I could keep her out of the old folks' home,” Ms. Herrin said.

        Meals on Wheels and personal and housekeeping aides have provided the answer.

        Ms. Herrin ended with a reminder to those not incapacitated by age and ill health: “Let us never forget, there but for the grace of God go I.”


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