Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include the complete proper names of the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio and the Miami University Scripps Gerontology Center. (March 28, 2023)

CINCINNATI — Aging is a challenging topic and one we will all face, if we're lucky. In our youth-driven culture, how do we prepare to age? What resources are available and how can we help our loved ones as they get older? 

What You Need To Know

  • Council on Aging (COA) has local offices across the state geared to helping older adults stay safely in their homes

  • Personal care, housekeeping, meals and transportation are just a few services offered by COA

  • Caregiver services, support and advocacy are cornerstones of COA

Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio (COA) was created to answer these questions. It has a mission to provide support services and advocacy.

“Anybody in the community who is thinking about aging or caregiving, Council on Aging should be the first place that they think to call,” Director of Communications Paula Smith said.

While they don’t provide skilled nursing, COA fills in for families with things like home-delivered meals, or volunteer companions, giving families a break or supplemental help.

For Cincinnati’s Zelda White, the chairlift provided by COA has enabled her to stay in her home of more than 50 years.

“I was barely making it up and down the steps,” she said. “That’s a game changer.”

Before the lift was installed, Smith’s knee buckled while she was coming down the stairs, and she fell.

“In 74 of Ohio’s 88 counties, we have property tax levies that support in-home services,” said Bob Applebaum, Ph.D., from the Miami University Scripps Gerontology Center. “There are 15 states across the country that do this, and Ohio’s levies raise more than the other states combined.”

The result is that there is a range of services for families and individuals who may fall between Medicaid-funded assistance and those with private insurance.

The challenge, however, comes in finding home health care workers for low-wage positions, often without health insurance, with an hourly rate set by the Ohio Legislature.

“All the area agencies on aging in Ohio have been advocating with lawmakers to increase [the Medicaid] reimbursement rate to pay their aids $20 per hour so that we can be competitive with fast food, with Amazon, with other jobs out there in the community,” Smith said. “This is a job that takes a lot of heart.”

The ability to stay at home as we age is a universally embraced goal. Not only is it economical, but it’s what many people want.

“I’ve always been independent,” White said. “Aging in place, in your own home, where it’s familiar and you’re not depending on anyone else, is important.”