Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging
By Deanna Adams
When it comes to senior healthcare, the various concerns that can develop can be overwhelming, and often times we don’t know where to go for help and guidance. That’s where The Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging comes in. The WRAAA provides advocacy, assistance, and answers for those who are aging and disabled. The organization offers a variety of services that can aid in a broad spectrum of healthcare needs.
“We’re always here to help, and we have been here for a long time,” says Fatima Perkins, director of community outreach and advocacy, who has a 30-year history with the organization. “Even during the pandemic, we’ve stayed in touch with our consumers with the wellness check program, the meal programs, and our new TeleCare Program.”
The agency leaves no one behind, whether the need is for information and guidance or referrals to any healthcare question. As a member of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the WRAAA offers a number of programs throughout Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Lorain and Medina counties. These include PASSPORT Homecare, Medicare Waiver, Residential State Supplement and Care Choice Ohio. It assists families by providing for long-term care and preadmission screening of nursing home applicants.
The nonprofit organization helps in planning, coordinating and administering state and federally funded programs. It provides escort, home and personal care, food and transportation, legal services, and offers individual counseling and support groups.
“Yes, that’s a lot to cover,” Perkins admits. “But we manage because each of our many programs are targeted for a particular need, and we have a lot of dutiful folks that want to make a difference and serve people who need help.”
The coordinated community-based services for persons 60 years and older include—but are not limited to—family caregiver support (connects caregivers to supportive resources), nutritional program services, such as home-delivered meals, congregate meals, coupled with nutrition education and risk screening, and wellness supportive programs. The agency has also increased programs to adjust to the challenges of the pandemic.
“COVID really brought out the innovation in all of us,” Perkins says. “We created the Telephonics Case & Care Management so we could keep in contact with the most vulnerable. For some, we are a person’s only contact they have, so we take that seriously.” Three of the new programs include the Great Grocery Giveaway Program, Restaurant Voucher Program, and the Circle of Food.
“The TeleCare Program is where we keep in contact with our consumers at home for a wellness check,” Perkins explains. “There have been many during this time who experience fear about going anywhere outside their homes for care and food. We not only deliver food but include a Safe Home & Health Wellness Box that has many necessary household items like hygiene products, flashlights, CO detectors — things like that. And some have already asked us to continue this program indefinitely.”
Perkins adds that they receive great help from the nonprofit organization, Edwins Leadership & Restaurant, who prepare and provide the meals in the program. “The grocery programs have doubled in each county due to need,” she says. “We deliver hot meals to social service organizations as well as private homes, and we have it available also for pickup.”
The WRAAA family caregiver support team is another much needed program that connects caregivers to the right resources, including often assigning a professional care coordinator to work with each caregiver. When appropriate, care coordinators may help caregivers create and implement a respite plan. Information, assistance, and care planning are provided at no cost for anyone requesting help.
The WRAAA anticipates administering their Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), through 2021. The program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, the Ohio Department of Aging, and the WRAAA.
The Aging and Disability Resource Center is the first go-to step in getting help and direction to all these resources. The department provides information, assistance, and referrals. “We’ve nicknamed the center the ‘front door’ because that’s the access to everything,” Perkins says. You can begin by calling (216) 539-9240.
The Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging is located at 1700 East 13th Street, Suite 114 in Cleveland. For more information on all services, see www.areaagingsolutions.org. Or call (216) 621-0303 or (800) 626-7277. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.