Eastern Ohio Community Roundtable discusses elder issues

| September 18, 2017

CAMBRIDGE – “Eastern Ohio Community Roundtable on Elder Issues” sponsored by the Ohio Department of Aging met at the Crossroads Library on Sept. 14 with Area Agency on Aging, Region 9 (AAA9) and many other state and county agencies and local officials to discuss the challenges of opiate addiction as more grandparents are raising grandchildren and how that’s impacting our Golden Buckeyes.

The Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) and AAA9 had its second community forum addressing Ohio’s opioid epidemic that is a crisis of unparalleled proportions with devastating deadly consequences. Opiates include both heroin and prescription pain reliver medications, and accounted for nearly 63 percent of the state’s 1,544 overdose deaths in 2010.

The opiate problem in Ohio impacts older adults in several ways. First as we age, we are more likely to have health conditions, illnesses and injuries that may require pain therapy, which can lead to addiction. Second, since older adults are more likely to be prescribed opioid medications, they are more likely to be targeted by theft and exploitation, often by someone they know well. Third, older adults may find themselves with increased family responsibilities due to the impact of drug abuse; for example, many become the primary caregiver for their grandchildren as the children’s parents struggle with addiction.

James Endly, CEO, Executive Director, AAA9 introduced the Director of the Ohio Department of Aging, Stephanie Loucka who informed those present about the startling statistics that plague the Buckeye state with opiate addiction:

2,106 opioid overdoses were reported in Ohio in 2014, accounting 7.4 percent of the 28,647 deaths reported nationwide that year.

Ohio had the most heroin deaths in 2014: 1,208 of 19,574 nationally, or 11.4 percent. (Henry J. Kaiser Foundation).

The average age of grandparents in Ohio who raise and care for their grandchildren is 55, of which 87 percent of those are grandmothers.

51 percent of Ohio grandparents raising grandchildren live in households with incomes of less than $30,000.

Current state solutions: In addition to traditional social supports, grandparents and other relative caregivers providing care to children under 18 years of age may receive services at 55 years of age or older through the Older Americans Act Nation Family Caregiver Support Program. This program is administered by the Ohio Department of Aging and provided through AAA9.

The Ohio Department of Aging proudly supports “Kinship Ohio”, a collaborative effort to ensure all kin caregivers are directed toward and able to access available supports, which includes education for kinship caregivers and agencies about state and national programs and issues affecting kinship caregivers; advocacy for support of kinship families; a networking system for caregivers and agencies that provide services in their communities.

The “Kinship Permanency Incentive Program” (KPI), administered by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), provides time-limited incentive payments to families caring for their kin. Eligible kinship caregivers will receive an initial payment to defray costs of initial placement and may receive subsequent payments at six-month intervals to support the stability of the child’s placement in the home.

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