By ANGELA HUSTON
Special to The Gazette
At a Senior Summit held July 11 at Medina General Hospital, Barbara E. Riley, director of the Ohio Depart-ment of Aging, addressed key aging issues with a group of concerned representatives from local re-source service agencies. Riley verbally sketched the changing face of aging in Ohio.
Each month, 12,000 Ohioans turn 60. These emerging Baby Boomers, the vanguard of tomorrowâ€™s seniors, will live longer and lead more active and independent lives, be better educated and more often be single. They will be wealthier, but at the same time more in debt and have less acute health issues but more chronic ones.
Spurred to act by this rapidly growing segment, the ODA, which already serves more than 2 million of Ohioâ€™s citizens, is striving â€œto provide leadership for the delivery of services and supports that improve and promote quality of life and personal choice for older Ohioans, adults with disabilities, their families and their caregivers.â€ Its goals include promoting the greatest level of choice and independence, promoting community living when appropriate and feasible in terms of cost and quality, and enhancing civic engagement â€” both paid and volunteer-based. More than 12 percent of those 60 and older now live in poverty.
A governor-appointed workgroup and five subcommittees (more than 300 people) worked 10 months to draft a plan to address these goals. After 94 meetings, they submitted the completed work to the Joint Committee on Medicaid Technology and Reform.
The plan is divided into four phases spanning five years, beginning with recommended short term priorities (next year), intermediate term priorities (next biennium), and finally long term priorities (2012-13 biennium).
Shaping the future
In an effort to prepare for the expected growth among seniors (the 85 and older population will increase by 40 percent in the next seven years), the proposed unified long-term care budget would provide consumers with a flexible array of services and more choices.
It aims to provide a cost-effective system, reduce duplication, link services across agencies and jurisdictions and make long-term care funding transparent. The budget would enable consumers to make informed decisions that reflect their preferences and needs.
The proposed system of budgeting and service encompasses both facility-based and home- and community-based services and supports, based on consumer choice and differing levels of service need. It will include an array of options and feature a consolidated policymaking and budget authority to simplify decision-making and maximize the stateâ€™s flexibility.
The plan would result in consumers who experience a higher quality of life and are satisfied with the services and support they receive and would encourage Ohioans to be better prepared to make informed decisions about their options and plan ahead for future needs.
With the proposed plan, consumers with chronic or recurring needs for services, regardless of age or disability, will be served by the long-term services and supports budget, which includes nursing facilities, Medicaid waivers like PASSPORT and assisted living, state plan services, PACE and non-Medicaid funded services.
Own your future
A governorâ€™s press conference April 29 kicked off the â€œOwn Your Futureâ€ campaign, a partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, targeting Ohioans age 45 to 64 with letters urging them to order available OYF planning kits that present broad overviews on lifestyle planning for healthy aging, legal and estate planning, staying at home, financial planning for long- term care, long-term care insurance, reverse mortgages and planning for oneâ€™s own care.
Individuals are directed to additional resources, such as their Area Agency on Aging, for more detailed information.
For a regional list of Ohioâ€™s â€œOwn Your Futureâ€ forums, visit www.GoldenBuckeye.com.
Senior Civic Engagement
From 2005-15, Ohioâ€™s 55 and older population will account for all the net population increase, and all the growth in Ohioâ€™s working-age population will be generated by this group.
Currently, Ohio has almost 2 million residents 45 and older not in the labor pool, due in part to exhausting unemployment benefits or giving up on finding a job, or both, Riley said.
The Senior Civic Engagement Initiative for senior employment would increase senior employment levels, increase workforce development responsiveness to seniors, urge retirement systems to provide incentives and remove disincentives for working beyond normal retirement age, and coordinate with the Third-Age Sub-committee of the Workforce Policy Advisory Board to ensure seniors are included in workforce planning.
Senior volunteerism goals would ensure opportunities exist that match the skills, time, effort and availability of emerging seniors and ensure effective communication and matching of opportunities and volunteers.
These healthy and active aging initiatives increase a personâ€™s overall health and reduce seniorsâ€™ personal healthcare expenditures by an average of $2,000 per year.
What we can do
Everyone can help, she said, by raising awareness of the link between physical and behavioral health, eliminating stigma that keeps people from seeking treatment and promoting wellness, active aging and collaboration among state agencies.
Instituting more prevention services now is key to the success of the plan.
For more information, contact the Ohio Department of Aging Services and Programs at 800-266-4346, 800-614-466-5500 or www.GoldenBuckeye.com.
By the numbers
Medicaid long-term care programs:
PASSPORT â€” 33,426 consumers statewide
Choices â€” 382 consumers
Assisted Living Waiver â€” 558 consumers
Residential State Supplement â€” 2,100 consumers
PACE â€” 857 consumers
Nursing Facilities â€” about 84,000 residents
ODJFS Home Care Waiver â€” 7,725 consumers
Adult Day Services â€” 7,400 days
Congregate Meals â€” 2.5 million meals
Home Delivered Meals â€” 6.1 million meals
Homemaker Chores â€” 185,000 hours
Legal Assistance â€” 22,000 hours
Personal Care â€” 303,000 hours
Respite â€” 270,000 hours
Transportation â€” 1.1 million one-way trips
National aging trends:
The 65 and older U.S. population â€” 37.3 million in 2006, increased by 10 percent since 1996
The number of Americans aged 45 to 65 increased by
39 percent during this decade
About one in every eight, or 12.4 percent, of the population is an older American.
Older women â€” 21.6 million
Older men â€” 15.7 million
About 30 percent (10.7 million) of non-institutionalized older persons live alone
Almost half of older women (48 percent) live alone
Cost of long-term care:
Almost seven out of 10 people turning age 65 today will, at some point in their lives, need long-term care.
A year in an Ohio nursing home costs more than $60,000 on average.
A year of care at home in Ohio costs on average about $16,000, assuming family or friends can help with some care needs.
The average lifetime expenditure for paid care is $150,000 for those who need long-term care.
Mental and behavioral health statistics:
About 20 percent of older adults experience mental health disorders that are not part of the normal aging process.
More than 17 percent of older adults will misuse alcohol or prescription drugs.
The need for behavioral health treatment among older adults is projected to double by 2020.
The rate of suicide in adults 65 and older is higher than any other age group.
The risk of suicide among white men ages 80 to 84 is more than twice that of the general population.
Estimated recovery rates for those who have received treatment:
80 percent recovery rate for bipolar disorder.
70 percent recovery rate for major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorder.
60 percent recovery rate for schizophrenia.
60 percent of those who complete treatment and attend self-help groups are likely to remain alcohol and drug-free.
Huston is a freelance writer from Medina.