When senior citizens need help, they don't always know where to find it.
That's the problem Delaware County officials say their newest program will help solve. Last week, the Council for Older Adults of Delaware County announced it had hired Marilyn Adams as its first service coordinator in Powell and Liberty Township, starting Monday, Nov. 5.
In her new role, Adams will connect residents ages 60 and up with medical care and other services they need to stay healthy, independent and in their homes for longer, county officials said.
They said they hope to expand the program to serve other parts of Delaware County in the future.
For now, Adams will help guide seniors in Powell and Liberty Township with services such as Meals on Wheels, personal care, housekeeping, counseling, prescription-drug access and medical transportation.
"There are a lot of individuals who don't always know where to turn when they need services," said Fara Waugh, associate director of client services at the Council for Older Adults. "Oftentimes they will call 911 or call the fire department because that's what they are familiar with.
"With nowhere else to turn, that's been their first line of defense, so to speak."
Now, seniors as well as family members caring for an aging loved one can call Adams in her office at the Liberty Township Fire Station 322 on Sawmill Parkway. She can be reached by calling the non-emergency number at the fire house: 740-938-2022.
Adams, a licensed social worker, said she has spent her career working with older adults.
"I think the program is fantastic, and it's needed. I hope it expands into the county and beyond," she said.
"To have a person with a human-services perspective there to analyze those situations and make those deci-sions is a win-win for everyone."
Police, firefighters and medical officials also will actively refer residents to Adams.
The service-coordination program is nearly unique; fire officials said just a handful of other communities across the country offer a similar program for seniors.
One is in Upper Arlington, where it has been a big success, said Liberty Township fire Capt. William Piwtorak.
There, a service coordinator took more than 500 calls and provided 375 referrals in the program's first three years. It also helped local officials discover seniors who were living in unsanitary conditions or with fire hazards.
Overall, it cut down the volume of seniors calling 911 for non-emergency requests by more than half.
Funding for the program will be provided through a grant from the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging.
Powell and Liberty Township may be particularly in need, because both populations skew significantly older than other Central Ohio communities, officials said.
In the past 10 years, Liberty Township saw about a 120 percent increase in residents ages 60 or older.
Powell saw a 261 percent increase in the same demographic.