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Assisting Elderly Association Members

At the last census, 6.4% of Ohioans were age 75 or older, so chances are that you have at least a few in your association. Often times, elderly members are living by themselves, and do not receive regular visits from friends or family.

When an elderly person begins to have trouble with normal daily living, unfortunately, it can mean risk for that person, as well as for the association. Some may not see this as an issue for the association, but when common elements become damaged because of unit owner neglect, the repairs are often at the association’s expense.

Whether the person begins to hoard newspapers, causing a fire hazard; ignores a leaking sink, causing damage to the unit below; or leaves the stove unattended, the end result is that other association members may be at risk, as well as the common elements.

If a board member or other unit owner notice some signs of an elderly member being unable to take care of themselves, the first step would be to notify a family member (if the association has the contact information). Many associations require a new unit owner to fill out an emergency contact form.

If the person has no family or a family contact is unavailable, the next step would be to notify social services. Simply call the Ohio Department of Aging at (866) 243-5678, and you will automatically be directed to your local social services contact, and they will be able to further assist you with helping your elderly association member.

Local social services may send a social worker to meet with the elderly association member, and can further make determinations as to the status of that person’s mental health and ability to take care of themselves. If a social worker determines that the person is able to to live alone, the worker can sign the elderly member up for services such as Meals on Wheels, discount prescription drug programs if they cannot afford proper medication, or determine if the person would be better suited in assisted living.

There are some tell-tale warning signs that an elderly association member is unable to take care of themselves, and you should notify either a family member or social services. The following may be signals that your association should address an elderly member’s needs:

• Malnourishment- the person does not eat enough, to the point that it is very noticeable

• Wearing clothes that are dirty, ripped, or unsuitable for the weather

• Not getting proper medical care

• Hoarding items or animal feces in unit

• Major repairs are needed, but not done

• The person asks the same questions over and over, or doesn’t remember recent conversations

Be sure to recognize any of these signs, and try to keep in contact with the elderly member on a regular basis if there might be a problem. Although your help may not be appreciated by the elderly member at first, remember that it may be necessary nonetheless.