COLUMBUS - As a monumental winter storm crawls across the U.S., creating blizzard-like conditions in northwest Ohio and dropping significant ice accumulations on much of the rest of the state, the Ohio Department of Aging reminds residents that resources are available to help older Ohioans weather the storm.
"Storms like these can cause homes to lose electricity and cause individuals to become isolated. We want people to know they aren't alone and that help is available," said Bonnie Kantor-Burman, director of the department. "If you are an older individual, please do not hesitate to ask for help if you need it. If you have older neighbors or relatives, please check in on them to make sure they are okay."
In addition to the things everyone needs access to in severe weather, such as heating, food, water and emergency supplies (e.g., flashlights, a battery-operated radio), seniors and people with disabilities may have special needs that require additional planning, such as:
- What to do in the case of electrical outage;
- Access to safe transportation if they have to leave their homes;
- Lack of access to repairs if certain medical equipment breaks down;
- Running out of prescription medications; and
- Loss of access to personal care assistance.
Ohio's 12 area agencies on aging are excellent sources of information about the types of emergency assistance and supports available in Ohio's communities. Ohioans can call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving the county from which they call. Local senior centers also may be able to point residents to resources to keep them safe. Contact information for area agencies and senior centers is available on the Department of Aging's website (www.aging.ohio.gov).
Residents in immediate danger of harm due to inclement weather should contact local law enforcement or call 9-1-1 for assistance.
Getting help after a storm is just as important as during it. According to the Ohio Department of Insurance, Ohioans should inspect their property as soon as possible for damage and call their insurance company immediately. Also, carefully check the background and references of contractors and others who promise "cheap" repairs after a storm. Don't pay the entire cost of repairs up-front, and try to do business only with local, established contractors. Call the department's consumer hotline at 1-800-686-1526 with insurance issues.
About ODA - The Ohio Department of Aging provides leadership for the delivery of services and supports that improve and promote quality of life and personal choice for older Ohioans, adults with disabilities, their families and their caregivers. Working with 12 area agencies on aging and other community partners, the department offers home- and community-based Medicaid waiver programs such as PASSPORT, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.