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DSAS' 2021 Annual Advisory Board Meeting Highlights Growth, Age-Friendly Communities Concept

DSAS' 2021 Annual Advisory Board Meeting Highlights Growth, Age-Friendly Communities Concept

The Cuyahoga County Senior and Adult Services Advisory Board held its second Annual Board Meeting on January 28.  The virtual meeting themed, “From Surviving to Thriving,” provided the community an opportunity to learn about the Board’s initiatives, and the Division of Senior and Adult Services’ (DSAS) mission, programs and services which have been helping older adults and adults with disabilities move 'from surviving to thriving' over the past year. 

County Executive Armond Budish kicked off the meeting with opening remarks. “We’re grappling with an aging population with increasing needs.  DSAS works every day to empower seniors to age successfully.  We’re in the midst of a pandemic, and it makes our work even more important.”

Outgoing Board Chair Catherine Rush congratulated three board members for completing their terms and thanked them for their service.  She shared highlights of the past year, including the Board’s first virtual Annual Meeting, hosting of the first Northeast Ohio Aging and Disability Summit, and a newly energized mentoring program to support the success of new Board members.  “It’s been a busy and active year, and I’m proud of the work we accomplished,” she noted.

Incoming Board Chair Bill Hebble updated viewers on the work of the Board’s Advocacy Committee, which has been focusing on food insecurity and SNAP benefits, Esther’s Law and increases to Adult Protective Services funding for Ohio counties.  He also presented Outgoing Board Chair Catherine Rush with the first ever Honorary Advisory Board Member designation, honoring her decades of contributions to DSAS, its clients and the aging community.  “This position is a privilege and is extended only to those who have shown exemplary dedication and support to DSAS,” Hebble said, “Clearly, this position is meant to honor the very best of the best.”

DSAS Administrator Tracey Mason presented the Division’s highlights for 2021.  Overall, 15,000 residents were served by DSAS in 2021.  Adult Protectives Services and Options for Independent Living Programs saw increases in the number of cases and clients served.  Clinical Services provided over 85,000 hours of personal care, and over 800 homebound seniors were vaccinated through community partnerships. DSAS also implemented The Hunger Vital Sign screening and provided 547,000 meals in 2021.

“For 2022, we plan to expand our adult development services on the westside of the County; expand outreach to the Hispanic community; expand our home delivered meal program to weekends and holidays; add new provider partners, especially digital literacy partners; and build upon our partnership with Senior Transportation Connection,” Mason said.  “Also, it is our top priority to make Cuyahoga County Age-Friendly.”

AARP Ohio Associate Director of Outreach and Advocacy Doug Tayek was the keynote speaker at this year’s event.  He introduced the concept of Age-Friendly and Livable Communities, an international initiative being led by AARP.

The Livable Communities / Age Friendly concept started in 2006 and is based on the idea that communities have eight domains of livability which people seek – Open Spaces and Buildings; Transportation; Respect and Inclusion; Housing; Communications and Information; Civic Participation and Employment; Health and Community; and Social Participation.  Communities that maximize the strengths of all eight domains of livability are the communities most in demand by older adults as we age. 

Today, there are 605 Livable Communities, including 10 states. Communities within each state meet quarterly as a coalition to share best practices, foster mentoring and study what trends are being seen.

The last presenter, Ohio Senator Nickie J. Antonio, shared the Ohio Legislature’s progress in passing some significant legislation impacting older adults and adults with disabilities. 

“Protecting older Ohioans and people with disabilities has been a focus throughout my career. As co-chair of the Ohio Disabilities Caucus, I’ve fought hard for additional funding to support these groups in our budget and hire more Adult Protective Services staff.  The At-Home Technology Pilot Program awards grants to providers whose technology supports older adults in their homes.  We’ve also restored the Senior Services Block Grants and increased our Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program,” the Senator explained. “Ohio is going to see an aging trend in the coming years.  It’s essential that we get our support systems in line now.”

If you would like to learn more about any of the information presented in the 2021 Senior and Adult Services Annual Board Meeting, please contact dsascommunications@jfs.ohio.gov