“My brother-in-law was feeling overwhelmed and had no idea where to turn. AgeWell Cincinnati provided a sense of relief that someone was there.”
Since its launch in October 2017, AgeWell Cincinnati has answered more than 600 calls from people in Cincinnati who were looking for relief—like the caller above—advice, or services for older adults. As each of those calls come in, and as each person fills out an online form, that person is connected to an AgeWell Cincinnati team member, who listens to them and guides them through the process of finding the answer they need.
“We know issues surrounding aging are sometimes difficult and emotional, and are often multi-faceted,” said AgeWell Cincinnati Manager June Ridgway. “If we can be that one place you know you can turn to, or help lessen the stress of having to figure it all out yourself, we have done our job.”
There are more than 60 available resources offered by the providers—Mayerson JCC, Jewish Family Services, Cedar Village, and JVS Career Services. Since its launch, though, callers have most frequently sought help with care management, home care assistance, counseling, and transportation.
“More and more, older adults want to stay in their homes as long as possible,” said Ann Sutton Burke, Director of Aging and Caregiver Services for Jewish Family Service. “While that is a great way to maintain an active and healthy life, it can present some logistical challenges. So it’s no surprise many of our callers are looking for help in those areas.”
“If we can be that one place you know you can turn to, or help lessen the stress of having to figure it all out yourself, we have done our job.” –June Ridgway
One thing team members were surprised by is the number of calls they were able to manage themselves. When the program was launched, the providers and funders envisioned that AgeWell Cincinnati team members would a receive call, listen to and assess the caller’s need, and then connect the caller to the agency that can best serve them. That has happened in about 83 percent of all cases. However, for the other 17 percent, the caller’s needs were met by team members themselves.
“We found that in some cases, we had the information the caller was looking for right at our fingertips,” Ridgway said. “One caller wanted a recommendation for a Jewish doctor in Cincinnati. Another had a question about where to find a raised washer and dryer. So we really have become the place to call when you don’t know where to turn—and we are so pleased to fill that void for our community, whether the caller’s needs are simple or complex.”
Ridgway said the team was also surprised that many of the callers are in their mid-to-late sixties, and that about sixty percent of them are calling for themselves.
“Baby Boomers are the largest group in our community,” Ridgway said. “Many are still very active and are looking for ways to maintain their health and implement methods for aging in place in the coming years. And because people are living well into their 80s and even 90s, many Baby Boomers have parents who are still living and who require complex care. It is a lot to manage, so they’re calling us for support.”
“We feel good about how we have served older adults in Jewish Cincinnati in the last year,” Burke said, “but we are also thinking about how to improve what we offer. As we move through our second year of operation, we will be part of new programs that support the efforts of the Aging 2.0 task force, the community initiative improving the quality of life for older adults.”