Columbus, Ohio – As we close out the year at the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA), we wanted to take a moment to highlight just some of the accomplishments ODA and our aging network partners achieved in 2022. Thank you to all of our partners and stakeholders who work every day to make Ohio the best place to age in the nation.
ODA launches 2023-2026 State Plan on Aging
In October, ODA launched Ohio’s 2023-2026 State Plan on Aging, which implements a collaborative approach that stands out from other aging plans across the country. The State Plan on Aging calls on all Ohioans – including state and local partners in both the public and private sectors – to join forces to help Ohioans live longer, healthier lives with dignity and autonomy, and to eliminate disparities and inequities in aging.
As Ohio’s federally designated State Unit on Aging, ODA is required to periodically submit a state plan on aging to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living. Approval of the state plan affords Ohio the ability to draw down federal Older Americans Act funding to support critical programs and services administered by ODA and the state’s 12 area agencies on aging, including home-delivered and congregate meals, transportation, home modification, chore services, adult day services, respite, and caregiver supports.
The new plan serves as a comprehensive roadmap guiding the state’s aging network on strategies to improve the overall health and well-being of older Ohioans.
Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame returns
In September, ODA held its first in-person Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony since 2019.
This year's class of inductees included 15 extraordinary older Ohioans who have dedicated their lives to helping others and improving their communities. They range in age from 66 to 101 and possess a variety of backgrounds. Among them are doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers, veterans, public servants, philanthropists, historians, preservationists, musicians, actors, advocates, and more.
The induction ceremony, held in the Ohio Statehouse atrium, was hosted by ODA Director Ursel J. McElroy and co-hosted by John Corlett, Chairperson of the Ohio Advisory Council for Aging.
The newest class of inductees brought total membership in the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame to 501.
In addition to inductees’ family and friends, several other dignitaries were on hand for the ceremony, including members of Governor Mike DeWine’s Cabinet, leaders and members of the Ohio General Assembly, as well as leaders with the Ohio Advisory Council for Aging, the state’s area agencies on aging, and partner organizations and associations within the state’s aging network.
ODA hosts “Well Beyond 60!” EXPO at Ohio State Fair
Also returning from a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic was ODA’s “Well Beyond 60!” EXPO at the Ohio State Fair. ODA hosted the popular expo in August on Senior Day at the Ohio State Fair.
Returning for its sixth year, the EXPO featured more than 20 partners offering health and wellness screenings and demonstrations, COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, nutrition information, and more. The fair also offered a free Senior Day concert by The Drifters, presented by AARP.
Governor DeWine, ODA celebrate Older Americans Month
In May, ODA and Governor Mike DeWine celebrated Older Americans Month and its “Age My Way” theme by highlighting how older Ohioans remain a key source of our state’s strength, drawing on lifetimes of experiences, successes, and resilience.
Ohio has more than 2.8 million residents age 60 or older, who account for nearly one-quarter of our total population.
10 Million Steps raises falls prevention awareness
Throughout the month of September, Ohioans walked a grand total of 55,250,000 steps in support of falls prevention awareness, vastly exceeding the goal of ODA’s annual 10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls campaign. This year’s final tally was the highest total for the campaign since the before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Created in 2015, ODA’s 10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls campaign is held during Falls Prevention Month each September to encourage Ohioans of all ages to walk at least one mile, either in a group or as an individual, for valuable exercise and as an opportunity to learn about other things they can do and local resources available to help prevent falls.
This year, 25 walking groups, comprised of 5,580 participants, walked a combined total of 22,100 miles in related events – that’s the equivalent of walking around the perimeter of Ohio nearly 20 times.
Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program remains popular
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, a partnership with local area agencies on aging, also returned in 2022.
More than 45,800 eligible older Ohioans received vouchers to be redeemed for Ohio-grown fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs, and honey.
The program included 467 authorized farmers, and more than 300 farmers’ markets and roadside stands.
In relation to the program, ODA offered a series of 12 Nutrition Education Fact Sheets and Eating Well: Farmers’ Market Recipes to help seniors make healthy dietary choices and to get the most out of the products they get at their local farmers’ market.
ODA continues response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Although we entered a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022, ODA continued to support infection prevention and control efforts by investing in the Regional Rapid Response Assistance Program (R3AP).
The ODA website, specifically The Road Back: COVID-19 Resources for Congregate Settings, continues to offer a wealth of information and updates as the pandemic continues to evolve.
Students gain valuable experience through Scholars in Aging
The Ohio Scholars in Aging Program returned this year. The program is for undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled in an accredited educational institution in Ohio. Participants benefit from the opportunity to learn about aging-related policymaking, establish professional contacts, and gain career knowledge and skills in the field of aging. Scholars in the program also get a wide exposure to aging policies and programs at the state and local levels.
The Winter/Spring 2022 session had 10 participants representing eight different schools in six different areas of study. Eight of these participants were graduate students. Half of the participants stated their experience in the Scholars in Aging program impacted their decision to pursue a career in aging and two of the participants were offered employment opportunities by local area agencies on aging. Another two participants are employed by a community-based organization and are managing a grant funded by ODA. Another participant is the student member of the OAGE Board and will be assisting with the 2023 Scholars program.
In October, the program began accepting applications for the Winter/Spring 2023 session, notably doubling the stipend for participating college and university students who complete the program.
The free program is a partnership between the Ohio Department on Aging and the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education (OAGE).
ODA collaborates to advance research on brain health
In May, ODA joined in a collaboration with the Ohio Department of Higher Education, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), and the Office of Governor Mike DeWine to advance research related to brain health.
Under this partnership, the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of CWRU received a $2 million Third Frontier Research Incentive grant for a brain health-related project, covering the areas of prevention, early intervention, and slowing the progression of disease and disorders. The goal is to produce brain health research that results in increased independence, longevity, and vitality for Ohioans.
ODA, others partner to keep older drivers safe
Earlier in December, ODA joined Governor Mike DeWine, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Ohio Department of Public Safety, and AAA in support of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, encouraging Ohioans to “Stay Fit to Drive” with resources specifically designed for older drivers and their families.
ODOT data shows that the number of deaths involving older drivers hit a 10-year high in 2021, when 299 people died in crashes on Ohio roads, representing 22% of all traffic deaths statewide. Deaths involving older drivers have been rising post-pandemic, as drivers resume normal activities.
The American Occupational Therapy Association’s Older Driver Safety Awareness Week takes place each year during the busy holiday season when many families come together. It offers an opportunity for families to examine different aspects of older driver safety and discover resources that can keep them and their loved ones safe and mobile.
State leaders support National Family Caregivers Month
In November, Governor Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor John Husted issued a proclamation in recognition of National Family Caregivers Month. ODA also commemorated the month with a social media campaign to recognize caregivers and all that they do.
Caregiving takes many forms, including running errands, attending appointments, cooking, helping manage difficult situations, and much more. Additionally, caregivers can be parents, adult children, partners, relatives, or anyone that has a relationship to a person living with a health condition.
Visit the ODA website for more information about the National Family Caregiver Support Program.
New leadership elected for Ohio Advisory Council for Aging
In 2022, the Ohio Advisory Council for Aging elected new leadership. By unanimous votes, John Corlett of Cuyahoga County was elected Chair and Semanthie Brooks of Summit County was elected Vice Chair.
The council guides ODA’s director on issues and opportunities affecting older Ohioans. At each meeting, council members receive updates from ODA on the work of the administration, ODA programs, and pending legislation. Members represent the interests of older adults, their caregivers, and organizations that serve them. They also serve as local ambassadors and inform their communities on the state’s approaches to addressing the needs of older Ohioans.
About ODA – The Ohio Department of Aging serves and advocates for the needs of Ohioans age 60 and older, as well as their families, caregivers and communities. Programs include home and community based long-term supports and services, as well as initiatives to promote health and wellness throughout the lifespan. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.