WILMINGTON — Thanks to the November passage of a seniors tax levy increase, Council on Aging (COA) estimates that at the end of the new levy cycle 66 more Clinton County seniors will receive services compared to now, and it also currently projects no waiting lists and meeting needs of a growing senior population.
Clinton County commissioners heard an update this week from COA of Southwestern Ohio, which administers the Clinton County Elderly Services Program (ESP).
Clinton County’s ESP helps older residents with services such as home-delivered meals, transportation to medical appointments, homemaking assistance, and personal care. The Elderly Services Program provides in-home care for eligible seniors who might otherwise need to leave their homes and enter a nursing facility.
A COA handout states the county’s Elderly Services Program will have about 441 clients at the end of this year. A chart in the handout anticipates gradual increases annually of clientele numbers during the next five years: 454 seniors served by the end of next year, exceeded yearly with 467 seniors, 480, 493, and then 507 seniors by the end of calendar year 2026.
Presently, Clinton County is doing better when it comes to home care workforce shortages, which COA representative Ken Wilson described as a major nationwide problem and an issue in Ohio.
According to COA numbers, 117 Clinton County seniors needed what’s classified as home care assistance during third quarter 2021 (July through September). Of those, three individuals were not matched with a provider, which is about 3 percent, he said.
By comparison, Wilson believes Butler County is around 30 percent, and Hamilton and Warren counties are each about 25 percent without a provider match.
Part of the explanation, he said, is a successful effort here to recruit additional home care provider agencies. There are five organizations that provide homemaking services to Clinton County seniors: Clinton County Community Action Program, Gabriel’s Angels Homecare, Katy’s Home Health Care, Assisted Care by Black Stone, and First Community Health Services.
During the appointment at the commissioners office, Commissioner Brenda K. Woods and County Administrator Mary Ann Foland both asked questions about how the satisfaction surveys noted in the handout were conducted. Commissioner Kerry R. Steed urged that all senior citizen centers in the county be considered for funds available to such facilities. And Commissioner Mike McCarty brought up the issue of social isolation and loneliness among older adults.
Council on Aging President Suzanne A. Burke said the federal government has identified social isolation as a targeted area for some federal dollars for seniors.
Wilson said given a changing insurance market, a benefits specialist began work for the Clinton County Elderly Services Program in May. This benefits specialist has been reviewing clients’ insurance plans, in particular Medicare Advantage Plans that are offered by private insurance companies. This is done largely to see to it that the local seniors levy is the “payer of last resort” for certain services, said Wilson.
The topic spurred comments from McCarty, Burke and Wilson about the complexity of health insurance plans.
“As you know, health plans are not the easiest to understand and seniors are very confused by a lot of these,” said Wilson.
In November, local voters supported the proposed increase in the senior services levy by a margin of 60.2 percent to 39.8 percent.
The first Elderly Services Levy here was approved by Clinton County voters in May 1998. This 1-mill, five-year levy garnered 60.4 percent of ballots cast. In May 2003, a proposed 1.19-mills, five-year tax levy was approved by 69.9 percent of voters.
In November 2007, a senior citizen services levy received 67.1 percent of the votes cast. In March 2012, support for the senior services levy increased to 75.9 percent.
In November 2016, the percentage of approving voters was the same solid 75.9 percent. The official ballot count from that General Election registered 13,767 for the levy and 4,368 against.
Hence, the winning percentage last month (60.2) was the lowest ever, slightly under the first time an elderly services levy was proposed (60.4).
On Monday, Wilson spoke for all seniors advocates when he expressed much gratitude to local voters for their continuing support to pay for senior services.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.