Senior Citizens


Seniors get “shelf meals” in case of bad winter weather

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Like squirrels putting away nuts for the winter, food is being boxed for seniors throughout Wood County. About 850 “shelf meals” were packed up recently at the Wood County Senior Center. The boxes will be delivered to the seniors who receive home delivered meals from the Wood County Committee on Aging. The goal is to make sure the seniors have food available in case inclement weather makes it impossible for the home delivered meals to make it to them. “If those individuals can’t get out of their house, and we can’t get to them because of the weather,” explained Angie Bradford, director of food services at the senior center. “It’s those extra two meals if we can’t get to them.” The Wood County Committee on Aging used to hand out pre-packed shelf meals, but found the quality lacking. Some of the food was not intended for long-term storage, Bradford said. Such was the case with canned pears one year. “They all exploded in my storeroom,” she said. So now the volunteers pack the boxes themselves. Bradford enlisted the help of people served by Wood County Developmental Disabilities to pack up the boxes. One can of beef stew, two peanut butter packets, powdered milk, corn, green beans, peaches and more. “It’s been a great partnership,” Bradford said. Those packing the boxes enjoy the work, she said. “Phyllis was asking about it in August.” As she packed cans in the boxes, Phyllis Layman explained her motivation. “I like helping people.” Tricia Romero agreed. “We want to be able to give back to the community.”


Levy renewal to protect against child, elder abuse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the numbers of child and elder abuse grow in Wood County, so does the need for county residents to support the levy renewal that provides funding to protect those vulnerable populations. On Tuesday, the Wood County Commissioners signed a resolution putting the 1.3-mill child and adult protective services levy renewal on the November ballot. The millage, to be collected for 10 years, will raise an estimated $3.7 million annually. The levy renewal effort comes at a time when the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services is seeing record numbers of child abuse investigations. It’s expected the county will investigate at least as many cases as last year – when the numbers jumped 25 percent to 894. “We anticipate having about as many as 2016, which set the all time record. Maybe a little higher,” said Dave Wigent, director of the county Job and Family Services. In addition to the increasing number, the county is also seeing an increase in the severity of the abuse cases – requiring that more children be placed in foster care. The overall increased cost of Children’s Services last year was about $500,000, Wigent said. So losing the levy funds that the county has relied on since 1987 would cripple the ability to provide child and adult protective services, he added. “It would be catastrophic for our child welfare and adult protective services,” Wigent said. The levy revenue makes up 90 percent of the adult protective services budget, he said. And loss of the levy would mean reductions in Children’s Services staff. “That would be at a time we are seeing record cases,” he said. Wigent stressed that the levy is not new money being requested of taxpayers. “It’s not a new tax,” he said. He also reminded that over the 30 years of the levy, there have been six times when the county has decided to not collect the full amount since it has…


Seniors dreaming big about new center possibilities

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Don’t tell these seniors they are stuck in their ways. They are dreaming big about the possibilities of a new senior center – conjuring up ideas like a pool, solar panels and retail space. “If they have a concept we haven’t thought of, that’s what we need to hear,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging. But Niese is quick to remind the seniors that the center has to stay within budget. Last month, it was announced that Bowling Green was giving the committee on aging land for a new senior center, and that Wood County would secure financing for the project. The property was formerly used for the school district’s central administration building, between South Grove and Buttonwood streets, south of West Wooster Street. Last week, a second public brainstorming session was held on the project. “People are wanting to give input, which is a good thing,” Niese said. “There was some very good discussion.” During this second session, more ideas were suggested about partnerships with the senior center. One recommendation was a possible teaming with community theater groups, such as the Black Swamp Players and the Horizon Youth Theatre. Niese said the committee on aging would need to look at the additional costs that would entail. “We’re open to exploring and partnering. This will still be a community space – like this one is,” Niese said of the existing senior center on North Main Street. “My board and I have to listen to these suggestions.” The idea was floated again about the committee on aging considering Kenwood Elementary School for a senior center, since the school district is planning to build a new centralized elementary school. Niese said the city is giving the land to the committee on aging, and the committee will have an environmental study completed before accepting the deed. “The city has offered,” she said. “We’re still in a planning process. We…


Nothing old about these new senior center ideas

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In the front room, bingo players listened as letters and numbers were called out. In the balcony area, ladies sat around a table playing cards. And in the dining room, anyone interested was plotting out the future of the senior center. “Today’s purpose is to talk about a dream,” said Denise Niese, executive director of the Wood County Committee on Aging, as she set the stage for the brainstorming session. Last month, it was announced that Bowling Green was giving the committee on aging land for a new senior center, and that Wood County would secure financing for the project. The property was formerly used for the school district’s central administration building, between South Grove and Buttonwood streets, south of West Wooster Street. For more than 35 years, the senior center has been housed in the postal service’s hand-me-down building on North Main Street. A new building offers the hope of a reliable elevator, ample free parking, and plenty of space so yoga classes don’t have to be held in the same room as seniors are getting help preparing their taxes. So on Tuesday, the first of two public input sessions was held. The next one will be June 27, at 6:30 p.m., in the senior center. The preliminary plans call for the new senior center to be two stories, with 25,000 square feet. That compares to the current center size of 14,500 square feet. Also unlike the current site, the new will have ample parking, with at least 87 spaces and none will be metered. “We’ve tried to have no preconceived notions,” said Michael Duket, who is working on the project with Jerry Voll, both from Duket Architect Planners, of Toledo. Other sites in Bowling Green had been considered for a new senior center, like attached to the community center, The Pharm, Enterprise Street by the county building, or next to the congregate kitchen on East Gypsy Lane Road. But all…


Reports of elder abuse on the rise in Wood County

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Wood County Probate Court is seeing more cases of elderly abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Judge David Woessner who presides over the court, said Wednesday, that he hopes it is because of greater awareness leading to more reports. Raising that awareness was the purpose the program presented by Wood County Job and Family Services after the annual Flag Day Pause for the Pledge observance. Tying the two programs together is fitting Woessner said: “So today when we recognize the flag and all it stands for, we should also recognize our need and our responsibility to help the elderly avoid abuse, neglect, and exploitation.” Mark Briseno, the adult protective services supervisor at Job and Family Services, said that in all of 2016 his office handled 260 cases. So far this year, there have been 149 reports, putting the office on track to handle 300 in 2017. He said that the increase probably reflects both heightened awareness leading to people reporting more readily as well as more cases. “It’s hard to really tell,” he said. “It’s a combination of both. Hopefully the efforts we’re taking to get the word out is contributing to more reporting. On the other hand, the elderly population is growing.” And he knows there are many more cases. Nationally only 1 in 14 cases is reported. “We have abuse by family members, neglect by family members or someone who may be in charge of someone’s care or an elderly person who is neglecting themselves,” he said. This may be because of memory loss or physical conditions that prevent them from taking care of themselves. Wood County, he said, is better situated to handle the situation, he said. His office has a supervisor, two case workers, and six homemakers, who help older residents handle light housekeeping. This service makes it possible for them to stay in their homes “which what we all want,” Briseno said. They also serve as another set of eyes, watching…