Gaps in care for the elderly are discussed

LIMA — By 2040 it is projected that 25% of Ohio’s population will be over the age of 60.

Caregivers and direct care providers met with representatives of the legislature and the state Medicaid office to discuss the state of personal care for the elderly in the Buckeye state.

Mary Steel, Director of Compliance and Oversight, Area Agency on Aging 3 shared, “We’re asking folks to go in and take responsibility to help an individual with their most personal needs, someone who is frail and at risk of being injured and is earning less than the poverty level. So as a system we truly need to look at what changes can be made to adapt our system to assist folks in being able to stay safe and healthy in their homes.”

There were challenges before the pandemic but those problems have increased with all the changes brought by COVID-19. Right now the Council on Aging has 21 personal care providers in a seven-county region. Staffing is a problem for all of them. Three agency providers can no longer accept referrals because the staffing level is too low to accept new patients. Since 2019 seven health agency providers have stepped back. Others have completely closed their doors.

There are many who are struggling to remain in their homes but are not able to receive the daily assistance that they used to depend on. Low wages and lengthy certification exacerbates the problems resulting in a reduction in worker applicants. The different programs have different rates and requirements which makes navigating through the various programs to get the proper assistance that is so desperately needed difficult at best.

Beth Kowalczyk, Chief Policy Officer, Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging offered a solution. Increase the reimbursement rate for personal care services for the PASSPORT program by 50%, combined with a $20/hour wage for direct care workers. This should make home care providers on par with other health care workers in the state.

As people age, their psychology, physical strength, and behavioral patterns change. It is at this stage of life that most people require more care and support.

Reach Dean Brown at 567-242-0409

Dean Brown
Dean Brown joined The Lima News in 2022 as a reporter. Prior to The Lima News, Brown was an English teacher in Allen County for 38 years, with stops at Perry, Shawnee, Spencerville and Heir Force Community School. So they figured he could throw a few sentences together about education and business in the area. An award-winning photographer, Brown likes watching old black and white movies, his dog, his wife and kids, and the four grandkids - not necessarily in that order. Reach him at [email protected] or 567-242-0409.