Committed To Becoming More Age-Friendly
City of Oxford United States of America
The Oxford, Ohio area is a safe and picturesque community with a small regional hospital, many activities associated with a large state university, Miami University, and a thriving senior center. The community’s strengths related to livability for older adults are many.
* Oxford Seniors, Inc. is a 580 member multi-service senior center with many programs and services for older adults. These include adult day care, congregate meals, home delivered meals, benefits counseling and outreach, transportation, health screenings, and social, wellness, cultural, arts and travel programs.
* Miami University offers enrichment for older adults through its Institute for Learning in Retirement, tuition-free classes for retirees and senior citizen discounts for a wide variety of events in the arts, athletics, recreation, and lecture series. Miami’s Scripps Gerontology Center, one of Ohio’s Centers of Excellence in Cultural and Societal Transformation has made significant commitments to the Oxford area’s age-friendly work. Scripps has conducted an initial community needs survey, provided OVN with a graduate assistant and supported the active participation of faculty and graduate students on OVN’s Steering Team and working committees.
* The City has recently completed safe sidewalks and walkability improvements, provides a building and space for Oxford Seniors, Inc., is in the process of building a large recreational trail system through and around the City, and has adopted policies of conservation for neighborhoods concerned with encroaching student housing. As part of a Creating Healthy Community By Design Initiative, a Walkability Audit was conducted on September 25, 2017.
* Some of OVN’s deliverables to date include two large community forums on Livability for older adults, partnerships with the City of Oxford and Miami University’s Scripps Gerontology Center on a Housing Needs Assessment in 2014, creation of a community resource directory for older adults, lectures, working with Butler County Regional Transit Authority on increasing use of public transportation and connecting the City with a national developer of senior housing potentially interested in building in the Oxford area.
* Oxford is home to The Knolls of Oxford, a continuous care retirement community including independent living, assisted living, rehabilitative care, and long-term care.
These characteristics make Oxford a desirable place to retire and grow older, yet there are significant challenges for older adults living in our community. The local economy and culture are driven by the needs and interests of the transient student-age population and visitors. Senior housing needs are not fully addressed. Our remote location in Butler County makes access to regional and county resources, in-home care and non-student retail needs difficult. The Oxford area is a car dependent community making non¬drivers subject to isolation. Those facing the most intensive struggles include those needing in-home assistance, their family care-givers who need respite and support, those of moderate and extreme financial need who require different housing options, those who are alone and/or do not drive and those who need employment in retirement.
Actions needed are:
HOUSING—A focused, creative, strategic response to housing needs for older adults is needed in order to attract a senior housing developer, access Ohio Housing Finance Authority tax credits, utilize limited land and increase housing stock for older adults. For those choosing to remain in their existing homes, a home modification initiative would be beneficial. Formation of a housing alliance may be useful.
TRANSPORTATION – Expanding routes of existing public transportation, exploring a rural ride share program, supporting Oxford Seniors’ existing transportation program, promoting multi-modal transportation and conducting senior driver education and car fit programs are some of the targeted activities for the future.
IN-HOME CARE AND CARE-GIVER SUPPORT — Hiring and sustaining in home care services is difficult in the Oxford area. There is a shortage of such service providers in this area. Locally, this is compounded by the driving distances and expenses incurred commuting to Oxford. Creating a pool of local qualified caregivers, creating a local job-training program for caregivers, and finding incentives such as travel stipends are needed to attract existing care-giving services to this area.
COMMUNICATION AND ENGAGEMENT – Oxford area’s retirees and older adults have ample opportunities for civic and social engagement in the community, but not all feel connected and isolation is an ongoing concern as people age. Awareness of and accessibility to activities and resources can be improved. Oxford has no local newspaper, surrounding rural townships have inconsistent internet service and some older adults do not retrieve information easily via the internet. Regular, coordinated communication by both traditional and new technology mechanisms are needed. Transportation and companionship to aid older adults in getting involved is important. The large student presence in Oxford provides unlimited potential for intergenerational programs to help with connectivity and inclusion for both the elderly and student populations.