Council on Aging distributes 10,000 wellness kits to older adults in southwestern Ohio
In an ongoing effort to help protect and support vulnerable adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, Council on Aging (COA) partnered with the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) and Pro Seniors to distribute 10,000 wellness kits to older adults in the region.
The wellness kits included reusable cloth masks, hand sanitizer, and education materials regarding the virus, resources, and frauds and scams. The kits were paid for by funding from the CARES Act.
Throughout the pandemic, COA has remained connected to the more than 26,000 individuals enrolled in its programs and services. Additionally, during the pandemic, COA has heard from many individuals who never before needed services. The greatest needs have been personal care supplies, personal protective equipment and food.
Throughout the summer, COA distributed 20,000 reusable cloth masks to enrolled clients and to individuals living in low-income senior apartment buildings in southwestern Ohio. COA has also worked with a variety of community partners during the pandemic to procure and distribute personal care supplies, additional personal protective equipment and meals to older adults in need.
“We’ve kept a close eye on the needs of our clients and the community during this pandemic,” said Council on Aging CEO, Suzanne Burke. “Working in partnership with our funders, provider network, local health departments and emergency management agencies, we’ve been able to help our clients stay as safe as possible while the pandemic continues to impact their lives. But we knew there were people out there who likely need help, but for whatever reason had not reached out. We saw these wellness kits as an opportunity to extend a helping hand and to let community members know that we are here to help if they need us."
The wellness kits were distributed via the United States Postal Service to households in Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton and Warren counties that met certain age and income criteria.
COA has received calls and letters from people who received the kits expressing appreciation for the help. Pro Seniors, a local non-profit organization dedicated to helping older Ohioans with legal and long-term care problems through a variety of free programs, contributed to the project. Each wellness kit included a Pro Seniors brochure, highlighting the organization’s free legal hotline, and information about frauds and scams prevalent during the pandemic.
Not long after the kits were mailed out, a staff attorney at Pro Seniors took a call from someone seeking help because she had given out her Medicare number through what she later suspected was a scam. When the Pro Seniors attorney asked the caller how she’d known to contact them for help, the caller mentioned the wellness kit she’d recently received in the mail from COA.
“Older adults are vulnerable right now and they need to know that people are looking out for the them,” said Anne Fredrickson, project manager for the Ohio Senior Medicare Patrol Project at Pro Seniors. “Partnering with Council on Aging on this project was a great way for us to reach out to seniors in our community and let them know we are here to help.”