May is a pretty special time of the year at our agency — it’s Older Americans Month. It’s a time to celebrate the wonderful contributions given by so many older Ohioans in our communities and express our gratitude for their years of positive influence and dedication to their families, friends and neighbors.
This year’s Older Americans Month theme, Make Your Mark, highlights older adults’ unique and lasting contributions to their communities — everything from sharing a story with grandchildren to leaving a legacy of community action.
It seems that with the current coronavirus pandemic, there have been several opportunities for many to “make their mark” with help and assistance to those most in need during this time. We have a volunteer opportunity through our Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (RLTCOP) to help residents at nursing homes feel less isolated and lonely. The RLTCOP is committed to protecting the rights of long-term care consumers and provides this support for nursing home residents by helping them resolve problems and advocating for their rights with the overall goal of enhancing the quality of life and care for all long-term care consumers in nursing homes or other home and community-based settings.
At this current time, volunteering with the RLTCOP would consist of phone calls to a designated nursing facility and/or a resident’s family contacts and no in-person visiting would be taking place. Additional volunteer assistance can also be provided over the phone to RLTCOP staff with other needs that may arise.
Those who are interested in this volunteer opportunity just need to contact our office at 1-800-582-7277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers should feel comfortable knowing that their safety is always a top priority and during this time, volunteering will be taking place in the safety of their own homes through use of the telephone. Those who are interested will need to complete mandatory training, which will take place through an online format. The goal of the entire process is to keep nursing home residents and volunteers safe while maintaining contact.
We at the Area Agency on Aging District 7 are certainly proud of the opportunities we have had to provide services, supports and resources to older adults year-round. The services and programs we can provide give us the opportunity to promote happy and productive lives for seniors and those with disabilities, allowing them to remain safe and independent in their homes and communities.
So, a happy Older Americans Month to all. Please take the time this month to recognize seniors throughout our 10 counties and be sure to thank them for their important role in our communities.
Nina R. Keller is the executive director of the Area Agency on Aging District 7, which includes Highland County.