The Older Americans Act (OAA) is a federal assistance program. However, services at the local level are provided through Ohio’s network of twelve Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and through the AAAs sub-contractors. Under Ohio’s version of the Older Americans Act, seniors can receive a variety of free or heavily subsidized services to help them to remain living in their homes and avoid pricey nursing home placement.
The services available differ by region, and each of the 12 AAAs has a separate budget and the flexibility to spend their funding as they best see fit for their aging population. Most regions of the state offer nutritional assistance in the form of home delivered and congregate meals, transportation assistance for medical appointments and errands, personal care, and homemaker services. Some also subsidize adult day care.
Eligibility for Older Americans Act services in Ohio is relatively straightforward. Persons must be legal Ohio residents who are aged 60 plus, or they must be caring for someone who is a senior Ohioan and meets the eligibility guidelines. There are no financial (income and assets) requirements in order to receive services via the OAA. (Voluntary donations are encouraged and are based on one’s income.) Aging agency staff assesses the applicant’s level of needed care, but it is not clear exactly how higher needs individuals are prioritized.
Unfortunately, eligibility and prioritization is not the same thing. As a result of budget constraints, someone can be eligible for services, but placed lower on the priority list. Priority is given to low-income families, those living in rural areas of the state, and to a lesser extent, minorities.
Each of the 12 Area Agencies on Aging in Ohio is granted considerable freedom in how they spend their Older Americans Act funding. The following support services are typical, but not necessarily available in all areas of the state.
Specifically, Safe at Home, is a collection of services that are intended to help seniors remain at home and live in a safe environment. As part of the suite of services, home modifications, maintenance, and repair are available. Examples include replacing window screens that are torn, furnace or air conditioner repair, and installation of wheelchair ramps.
Most of the abovementioned services are provided free-of-charge. However, there are some services that may request a co-payment, such as homemaker services. As mentioned previously, the co-payment is determined on a sliding scale based on the applicant’s income. Should fees exist, they are typically very reasonable and well below the market rate for similar services.
Interested parties should contact their local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). Ohio has 88 counties that are serviced by 12 nonprofit AAAs. One can find their local AAA here.
During the application process, candidates should be prepared to discuss their personal financial situation, as well as their care and support needs.