With continued cuts in government spending for Medicaid, Social Security etc., the future is not looking so bright for the elderly. It has already become more and more difficult for this population to access any kind of supportive services. Furthermore, it has become increasingly difficult for government-mandated agencies to fulfill their duty to provide, not only the safest but, the least restrictive environment for their elderly clients.
In Ohio, when an individual has reached the point that they are unable to take care of themselves, it is the duty of the Adult Protective Services worker to intervene and apply for guardianship for those who have no family and for those cases where there has been no estate-appointed fiduciary.
Sound like a simple plan? Maybe, except for the fact that there are no volunteers to be guardians for these individuals and no funding to pay someone to take on this difficult task. Even when you are able to find a few good-hearted souls willing to take responsibility for the life of someone they have never met; then you need to have the gall to ask them if they are willing to pay the $250.00 application fee. Even family members who are willing to apply for guardianship for a loved one, are often deterred by the expense that can be involved in the process.
Although many of us are thankful for the increase in life expectancy possible for people of our century, there is also the possibility of living to an age where we may experience some degree of disability. Not just a physical or mental disability, but some disabling event that may cause us to lose the very things that we struggle our whole lives to maintain.
It is heartbreaking to hear the stories about the elderly woman heating her home with her oven after her furnace breaks because she can’t afford to have it fixed; or the elderly gentleman forced to leave his home because he can’t afford to fix his leaking roof. Where is our compassion and sense of duty? These are our parents, our grandparents, but most of all, human beings in need of a little help.
Health Services Director
Athens County Job & Family Services