“People sometimes have this perception that the people who come here aren’t vibrant or active, and that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
That’s what Sharon Green, Executive Director of the Mercer County Council on Aging, has to say about the vibrant and dynamic environment at the organization’s senior center in Celina and their outreach programs throughout the county.
She’s right—the Mercer County Council on Aging (MCCOA) offers a wide spectrum of services that might surprise you. Read on to learn more about the MCCOA, the July recipient of Mercer Savings Bank’s Giving Mission donation.
Providing Mercer County Senior Services
Many Mercer County natives may be familiar with a few of the services that the MCCOA offers. For example, perhaps you enjoy going to the garage sales held at the senior citizen center in Celina or have seen the transportation van making its way through the county.
Services don’t stop there, though—the MCCOA offers an astonishing amount of resources for area seniors.
“We encourage people to come in and see what we do,” Green said. “People are always shocked by how much we offer.”
The four main service categories are transport, outreach, homemaker and chore. Could you or a senior loved one benefit from one of these offerings? Read on to find out more about each one.
Through transport services, the MCCOA can take seniors anywhere in Mercer County, to both medical and non-medical destinations. In other words, seniors can catch a ride to a doctor’s appointment, but they can also request to be taken to get their hair cut, visit the library or stop at the post office.
Out-of-county medical transport is available so long as it’s within a radius of 40 miles. For medical appointments outside of that range, the MCCOA contracts with a program called Find a Ride to provide transportation. So if the appointment is in Columbus or Cincinnati, for example, the MCCOA can still help arrange for a ride.
There are many services available for senior citizens through state and national organizations. The hard part is navigating the different systems.
The MCCOA can help. The outreach program is a resource for seniors or their families who aren’t quite sure how to navigate Medicare, or need some help at home but aren’t sure what exactly that entails.
“Outreach works with those people to figure out how we can help, and if we can’t, who can,” Green said. “Many times, an outreach worker will go out and meet with a client. After talking with them, they may be able to recommend certain resources that the senior could benefit from but weren’t aware of.”
Individuals who are unable to do basic cleaning in their home can benefit from homemaker services. Seniors who don’t have the stamina to mop or vacuum, or those who have an illness that prevents them from cleaning, can receive basic cleaning services twice a month to help them remain independent at home.
“That is our mission: to keep people in their homes and as independent as possible, for as long as possible,” Green said.
Slightly different from homemaker services, chore services apply to one-time chores such as installing grab bars, general yard work or carpet cleaning. Workers can help seniors with everything from installing smoke detectors to moving furniture to make room for a Christmas tree.
Interested in receiving services? Anyone age 60 and above who lives in Mercer County is eligible for MCCOA services, although some (such as homemaker services) do have additional eligibility requirements. Contact the MCCOA by (419) 586-1644 or visiting them online to learn more.
Activities and County Outreach
Beyond the four core services, the MCCOA offers a multitude of activities, events and programs.
Activities and programs include:
- Gym (located at the senior center in Celina)
- Blood pressure and glucose screenings
- Grandparent and grandchild activities (such as fishing or archery classes)
- Educational events (such as a series on how to protect yourself financially, what documents you need in place for retirement and cooking and nutrition.)
- Alzheimer’s support group
- Chair yoga
- Art classes
- Daily meal at the Celina senior center
- Garage sale
- Durable medical equipment rental, such as walkers, shower benches, canes, etc.
Although the senior center is located in Celina, the MCCOA serves seniors throughout Mercer County. Outreach programs include:
- Weekly meal in Maria Stein
- Bi-monthly meal site at Fort Recovery
- Medicare 101 courses offered at different locations through partnership with county libraries
- 8-week balance classes taught in Maria Stein
Meeting the Needs of Area Seniors in a Changing Society
Another common misperception about the MCCOA is that it is only for low-income seniors or seniors who do not have other means of support in the area. As Green explains, while services certainly can help seniors in those situations, they’re meant for all seniors as a means of enriching their lives—and the lives of their loved ones.
“We have gone from a society where there were at one point about four caregivers to every person who needed one, and now we’re down to two caregivers. So, our world is kind of shrinking,” Green said. “We rely a lot on unpaid caregivers to do things but not everyone has those. Not everyone has children living in the area, so it’s really important that we have that safety net in place.”
She continued on to say that even when a senior does have family in the area, those family members aren’t always available due to increased demands on their time.
“Even people who have children, those children are often trying to raise their own families while working full time. And then to take on the added work of driving a parent to an appointment or something like that—we could easily take that off people’s plates and then they’re available for the things that require a little more personal touch,” Green pointed out.
There’s no shame in asking for help, she said.
“It’s a very difficult thing, asking for help. I always tell people, ‘you would help if someone called and asked you for help. So let us help you.’”
Creating a Friendly, Helpful Environment with Big-Hearted Staff and Volunteers
When you walk into the senior center in Celina, it’s easy to see that it’s a free and open space. There are bookshelves and comfortable chairs, an upright piano, a half-finished puzzle and a gym full of senior-friendly equipment. Staff members greet clients by name and visitors enjoy a cup of coffee at a dining table. As Green gave a tour through the center one June day, a senior came in from the sunny Ohio morning and immediately gave Green a big hug.
“All of our staff is just amazing. Everybody has a real heart for what we do. They want to make sure people’s lives are better because we’ve been in them,” Green said.
The MCCOA is always accepting volunteers. You can call the office if you would like to volunteer. Opportunities include:
- Garage sale workers
- Arts and crafts classes instructors
- Meal prep helpers
Funds to Support Mercer County Senior Services
As the July recipient of the Giving Mission, the MCCOA has received a $1,000 donation from Mercer Savings Bank, a local mutual bank that serves Celina, Fort Recovery and Fort Recovery.
According to Green, a portion of the donation will be earmarked for people who can’t afford the $3 donation for the meals served in Celina, Fort Recovery and Maria Stein. The rest will go to the many other important projects underway.