BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — The Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio offers free services and connections to providers of all industries for those ages 60 and up.
The agency provides resources from senior centers to businesses to support groups that older Northwest Ohioans and their caregivers might require.
“Overarching, the Area Office on Aging helps those aged 60 and better live longer and better. We do that in eight main categories or ways,” said vice president of planning and program development Justin Moor.
The eight categories include: nutrition, home care, caregiving, seniors raising children, housing, transportation, senior center services and volunteering.
Additionally, the Area Office on Aging services are split into two methods. The organization is a direct provider of some services and helps fund other organizations.
“We have 180 different provider organizations that we contract with so that those organizations can provide services to older adults for little to no cost,” Moor said.
The Maumee Senior Center is just one of many organizations the Area Office on Aging supports in the area.
“Maumee Senior Center is one of 45 senior centers in Northwest Ohio that our contracted services are being provided at,” Moor said.
The services can include health and wellness workshops, fitness programs, creative activities, support groups and more.
Currently, the MSC provides caregiver support groups and is preparing for an upcoming program called Powerful Tools for Caregivers.
“It provides tools and resources for our caregivers to take better care of themselves while they’re caregiving,” said MSC outreach coordinator Laree Shroyer.
Moor said the program has been proven to lower stress levels for family caregivers and help them meet their own needs while providing for others.
“The caregiving space and volunteer space are really great entry points for individuals that have never had any interaction with the Area Office on Aging or senior centers to get connected to learn a little more about what we have to offer,” Moor said.
The Area Office on Aging has also worked hard to provide easier access to its services and providers with an online search.
On the website, areaofficeonaging.com, those interested can click on the services tab and search based on specific counties and certain services. More than 1,000 resources are available on the website from support groups to lawn care services to food services and more.
Additionally, those who are unable to easily access the website can call the Area Office on Aging at (419) 382-0624. Staff can answer questions and explain the resources available for each need, Moor said.
The website also has a transportation search tool that allows users to select their starting location and destination for a specific date and time and compare pricing based on certain criteria.
“For a community like ours that doesn’t have a subway or a really robust way of getting around, it can be expensive to pay for all of the trips individuals need to go on, so it’s the second-biggest expense in retirement,” Moor said.
The Area Office on Aging has created the search engine to help ease that cost and helps with transportation services through places like the Maumee Senior Center.
In addition to helping with the expense of transportation, the organization understands that housing is the biggest expense during retirement, and finding affordable housing in particular areas can be time-consuming.
“We have done all the calling around on their behalf, so people can call us or go to our website and there is a housing search on the home page. Individuals can answer a few quick questions and receive a quick snapshot of what is available.”
Providing these services is a way for the Area Office on Aging to ensure those 60 and older are receiving the resources needed.
“We want to help them live better and longer and help them retain and gain independence,” Moor said. “Sometimes, people are in denial in our society about aging, so because of that, any time they hear about aging or a senior center, they are dismissive. We want to emphasize the positive images of aging.”
In order to provide these services, the Area Office on Aging relies on several methods to fund its services from federal, state and local funding in addition to private donations that make up more than $30 million each year.
“It’s way cheaper to age well when those preventative care services are put in place early on.” Moor said.
Preventative care services include help with healthy eating, fitness classes and other services that ease the burden now so older Northwest Ohioans will not have as much unnecessary stress placed on them in the future.
“You don’t have to do it all yourself,” Moor said.
Anyone seeking preventative care services, help with caregiving or any other resources for those 60 and up is encouraged to visit the Area Office on Aging’s website at areaofficeonaging.com or call (419) 382-0624.
The Area Office on Aging is located at 2155 Arlington Ave. in Toledo.