The Center for Community Solutions provides consulting services to help organizations adjust to the ever-changing environment of health and human services. As the population of Ohio continues to age, communities will need to adapt. Direction Home Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging approached us last year, seeking help to analyze the current state of older adults in Summit County, their expected needs in the future and the financial impact of providing long term care to this population. The work was supported by The Akron Community Foundation, and Community Solutions was able to work directly with Direction Home to produce a report which was released last week. We obtained our data on this topic through surveys, focus groups, data analysis and the development of a cost projection model. The work began in November 2017 and concluded in April 2018, and can be found on Direction Home’s website. The following is a selection of findings from the Summit County Older Adults Needs Assessment and Long-Term Care Cost Analysis.Nearly a quarter of older adults in Summit County said they don't plan to research aging services - that's just one thing we learned in needs assessment with and for @DirectionHomeAC Click To Tweet
Currently older adults make up 22 percent of the Summit County population with large growth in this age group expected over the next 10 to 20 years. Older adults are projected to make up 30 percent of the county’s population by 2030. As the population ratios shift, agencies in Summit County are preparing to be able to provide the supports and services needed to enable older adults to maintain independence for as long as desirable, and thrive as active members of the community.
One thing that remains constant among all older adult populations surveyed for this assessment is the desire to remain in their homes for as long as possible.
Where do Summit County older adults intend to grow older?
Summit County consists of both urban and suburban municipalities, with some variations in income, race and education among Akron proper and suburban communities. One thing that remains constant among all older adult populations surveyed for this assessment is the desire to remain in their homes for as long as possible.
Do older adults in Summit County know how to access aging supports and services?
Older adults obtain information about the services they need, and education about aging, in a variety of ways with various levels of success. When access to information and education is high, older adults gain the ability to find and connect with the services they need in a way that is sustainable over time. When asked if, in general, they were able to find information on the services that they need, there were slight variations between the level of access in the general population of older adults residents and those already familiar with Direction Home.
What are older adults in Summit County doing to prepare for growing older?
There is a perception that older adults and their caregivers do not prepare for needs related to aging until they have reached a state of crisis. When Summit older adults were surveyed, nearly half said they plan to research options for aging services when they are approaching the need, nearly a quarter said they have done no research and do not plan on doing any research. One thing that may prevent people from researching services is fearing what they may learn. The top concerns older adults in Summit County have about accessing services are quality of care, cost, privacy and worry about being placed in a long term care facility.
One thing that may prevent people from researching services is fearing what they may learn. The top concerns older adults in Summit County have about accessing services are quality of care, cost, privacy and worry about being placed in a long term care facility.
Will older adults have the support they need?
With high costs of care, many older adults in Summit County are at risk of not being able to afford the care they need. The group that experiences the most financial struggle are those over Medicaid eligibility and below an income that could support privately paying for services.
Maintaining the current inadequate level of funding for older adult services from the federal, state and local levels would have a negative impact on the financial stability of the individual, the individual and their caregivers and the entire community, compounding over time. Agencies that currently provide subsidized services for older adults will find it increasingly difficult to provide recommended levels of care for the number of older adults seeking that care.
How can the community provide support?
With an increasing number of older adults entering the sphere of needing home and community based services, Summit County aging service providers will need to consider how they can raise additional funds to support community based care for older adults and their caregivers. In focus groups, caregivers universally agreed more funding was needed for aging and caregiving support services, and three out of four older adults in Summit County think that more funding is needed for aging services.