As far as Janet Caldwell is concerned, the Franklin County Office on Aging is like a good neighbor.

As far as Janet Caldwell is concerned, the Franklin County Office on Aging is like a good neighbor.

Through the Senior Options program, the agency's communications manager said, county residents age 60 and older can receive services that enable them to remain in their homes -- as opposed to being forced into a home.

"We come and do the types of things your neighbors would do for you should you suffer an illness or an accident," Caldwell said. "That's how we kind of think of ourselves."

Caldwell was the guest speaker at the Aug. 15 meeting of the Forest Park Blockwatch in the Northland area. She and other representatives of the Franklin County Office on Aging undoubtedly will make more appearances before civic groups in the months to come, since the 1.3-mill property-tax levy that funds Senior Options expires in 2017.

The measure received support from 62 percent of voters in November 2012. The levy has been approved by voters every five years since 1992.

In her remarks, Caldwell touched only briefly on the levy, saying its renewal would be on the ballot at some point next year.

She did discuss in detail the kinds of services the property-tax measure funds, including an emergency-response system, medical transportation, home-delivered meals, personal care, information and referral, adult day care services and minor home repair.

"Our big emphasis is to keep older adults at home," Caldwell said.

"It was very informative, especially for people not quite the age to take advantage of the services," audience member Sue Logan said following the presentation.

"Take notes," urged Blockwatch coordinator John Biteman at the outset of the meeting. "Take information back to your next-door neighbors."

Around 6,000 older adults take advantage of Senior Options services monthly, according to the Franklin County Office on Aging, and more than 4,000 people contact Senior Options for information, referrals or to access services.

Senior Options services can be accessed by calling 614-525-6200, an information line Caldwell said is staffed by specialists trained in geriatric services as well as information and referral. The number is staffed from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, and until 7 p.m. Thursdays.

Once the needs of each caller are determined, Caldwell said, a case manager is assigned to that person to arrange for services. Information shared with case managers is confidential, just like conversations with a physician, Caldwell told people in attendance last week.

While the 1.3-mill levy funds most aspects of Senior Options, Caldwell said participants provide a copay for the services they receive on a sliding scale based on income and assets. The average copay is less than $40 a month, she said.

"Those with a lower income and lower assets pay a lower copay or no copay at all," Caldwell said.

The county official shared a personal story from 15 years ago when she moved her mother, who required kidney dialysis, from West Virginia to Columbus. New dialysis patients, Caldwell said, tend to get assigned "lousy time slots" to receive their treatments, and those for her mother were at 8 p.m.

Caldwell enrolled her mom in Senior Options and she received transportation to and from the dialysis facility.

"That really, really helped me a lot," Caldwell said. "You'll notice that with all the services we offer, we not only help the senior but their caregiver as well."