Crime, fear of losing independence, and managing household chores are the top concerns of Worthington senior citizens, according to survey results released last week.

Crime, fear of losing independence, and managing household chores are the top concerns of Worthington senior citizens, according to survey results released last week.

The survey, which had 288 respondents, was distributed by Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (SALT), a recently formed organization aimed at keeping Worthington's older adults safe and comfortable in their homes.

The survey results were unveiled at SALT's first public meeting, which drew approximately 50 residents to the Griswold Center Jan. 19.

The group was founded by Worthington police in conjunction with senior center leaders, but volunteers will run the organization and plan and carry out actions such as forming block and neighborhood watch groups, educating about crime and safety, and establishing a program to help with chores like snow shoveling.

Worthington police officer Kirk Allton and Griswold Center director Colleen Light began planning SALT about a year ago, shortly after James Mosic became chief of police.

Mosic spoke briefly at the meeting, announcing that county funds may become available to support SALT initiatives. The organization is needed, he said.

"Each Worthington officer has seen a senior in need," the chief said.

SALT is based on a national organization, but is the first in the central Ohio area.

"We in Worthington can set the standard for SALTs in Franklin County," said Walt Kobalka, the organization's first board president.

Written and electronic surveys were distributed from September through November. They were handed out at Market Day, through Meals on Wheels and neighborhood organizations and civic groups, and through the mail. They were also available at churches, libraries, and the senior center.

Fear of burglary, vandalism, robbery, and identity theft were the top concerns voiced by a majority of the respondents. They also said they had concerns about street lights and adequate police patrols.

A lack of pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and intersections was a concern of nearly half of the respondents.

Next common among concerns mentioned was the fear of losing physical independence. It was a highly ranked concern among those people aged 85 and older.

A majority of respondents also said they were concerned about the ability to do household management activities such as yard work, repairs, and snow shoveling.

Three in-home services were rated as most important: assistance during a citywide power outage; assistance with snow removal and repairs; and adequate home care services.

Seniors who responded said they were not concerned about emotional issues such as sadness or isolation.

Most seniors, even those over 85, still drive, and they expressed little concern about transportation.

Availability of recreational activities was also not a concern of respondents.

Among future actions being considered are acting as a resource clearinghouse for services already available; providing education on personal safety, identity theft, and other crimes; supporting or helping to organize neighborhood organizations to keep an eye on each other; and forming a "kind call" service to check on seniors who live alone.

Also possible are establishing programs to refer seniors to people who perform household labor, such as snow shoveling; offering driver refresher courses; and advocating on behalf of seniors before governing bodies.

Volunteers and other ideas are needed. Meetings will be held the third Thursdays of each month. The SALT website is www.worthingtonsalt.org.