AgeWell Cincinnati Manager June Ridgway sat down with Beth Guttman, President of The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati. They discussed the needs of older adults in the Cincinnati Jewish community and why AgeWell Cincinnati was created. The Foundation is an AgeWell Cincinnati funder.
June: You have been an active community member in Jewish Cincinnati for many years. How have you seen the needs of the community change over time, particularly of those 60 and better?
Beth: Over the last decade, we have seen huge shifts in the needs and desires of adults as they age. For several years, I have been part of the Cincinnati Jewish Senior Service Coalition—a group made up of local providers of senior services (Cedar Village, Jewish Family Service, JVS Career Services, and the Mayerson JCC) and community funders and planners (The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati).
The coalition was tasked with assessing the landscape of services already available in Cincinnati and learning what Jewish adults and seniors will need in the future. The needs of older adults—social services, transportation, and even healthcare—seem to be evolving at a dizzying pace. Most in our community choose to age in their homes. Many elect to live in independent living facilities that aren’t operated by the Jewish community. As in all sectors of our lives, there are newer forces that have disrupted the status quo. Increased consumerism and more choices in the marketplace, changes in the way Medicare is administered to care facilities, and some seniors living longer than they planned for, have all contributed to a new reality for Cincinnati senior care.
June: You have identified the problem, or at least some of the problems. What action has the coalition taken to begin to address the changing needs of older adults?
Beth: Each organization is doing its own internal audit to ensure they are meeting the changing needs of the community as it pertains to the services they provide. In addition, the coalition launched AgeWell Cincinnati as a way to connect older adults to the wealth of services offered by our coalition’s providers.
We know that the needs of each older adult in Jewish Cincinnati are unique, and that finding the right solution can be challenging. Just knowing where to start can be daunting. AgeWell Cincinnati was created to be that first stop—to take the guesswork out of knowing who to call. AgeWell Cincinnati is truly the first stop on your journey to aging well in Jewish Cincinnati. We believe that, and we believe Jewish Cincinnati needs that.
June: You mention that AgeWell Cincinnati takes the guesswork out of knowing who to call. AgeWell Cincinnati made it a priority to even make “calling” easy for older adults, their family members, and caregivers. What are the other ways community members can contact AgeWell Cincinnati?
Beth: Calling is just one way to reach out to AgeWell Cincinnati. Older adults, their family members, friends, and caregivers can pick up the phone and dial 513-766-3333, or if it’s more convenient or comfortable for them, they can connect through the website at agewellcincy.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, send a private message through the AgeWell Cincinnati Facebook page, or use the chat feature on the website. Removing barriers is our goal—and that includes the method of communication.
“AgeWell Cincinnati is truly the first stop on your journey to aging well in Jewish Cincinnati. We believe that, and we believe Jewish Cincinnati needs that.” —Beth Guttman
June: Who can reach out to AgeWell Cincinnati? Is it limited to people living in Cincinnati?
Beth: No. One of the benefits of being part of the Jewish community in the United States is that there is a built-in network. Our Cincinnati Jewish Family Service, for instance, works with other JFS organizations across the country. Whether an older adult lives out of town, or their family members or caregivers do, the AgeWell Cincinnati team can connect them to the right resources in the right city.
June: Why was it important to the coalition to create AgeWell Cincinnati?
Beth: Caring for our elders is fundamental to our Jewish values. Honoring our parents is one of the Ten Commandments. Older adults in our community are living longer, are staying longer in their homes, and some are outliving their financial means. It is our responsibility to take care of them, pure and simple. As their needs change, so must the way we provide for them.
June: How has AgeWell Cincinnati moved the bar in serving older adults in our community?
Beth: AgeWell Cincinnati is the first community-wide service to give community members (seniors, their family members, and caregivers) one place to go for information and referrals. It connects people to the services and programs they need through a single phone call or electronic message.
We are delighted that AgeWell Cincinnati will be available for these important members of our community and for us, as a community, to better support the people who, until now, didn’t always know how to find the many services available to them. We can with confidence hope that in five years, seniors, their family members, and caregivers, have an ongoing connection to community that improves their quality of life.