New statewide coalition forms to serve the needs of Ohio's senior citizens
A former state official will lead a coalition of Ohio seniors and their families to identify and solve problems facing the population.
Barbara Riley, the former director of the Ohio Department of Aging, recently announced the formation of the Ohio Aging Advocacy Coalition.
Ohio has the sixth largest older population in the country, said Robert Applebaum, the director of the Ohio long-term-care research project at Miami University in Oxford.
“Between now and 2040, the overall state population is projected to grow only about 2 percent, which is relatively stable, but the older population is expected to go up by 50 percent,” Applebaum said.
Many of the seniors will develop disabilities and other health concerns, he said. By 2050 in Ohio, there will be only three potential family caregivers for every senior, compared with nearly seven now.
With Ohio already spending 36 percent of its Medicaid budget on long-term services and support for seniors, Riley said projected growth could add “unsustainable budget pressures” unless there are significant changes.
She said the group aims to help give seniors access to affordable, quality care and live independently for as long as possible but it will be up to the seniors and their family members who join the coalition to help inform policymakers about their needs.
“There are many stories of how Ohio has laid the foundation for seniors to age with grace, but many other stories spotlight how a lack of services can make our later years a time of difficulty, fear and uncertainty,” Riley said.
The coalition has support from aging groups including AARP and the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging, all of which will help recruit members for the coalition.