Lorain County Senior Expo offers free resources to older adults

ELYRIA, Ohio — Lorain County seniors are receiving a free reward to help them age and care. The County Office on Aging Seniors is holding its Aging Well Senior Expo for the first time since the pandemic mandates began. The event will be held on November 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lorain County Community College (LCCC) Spitzer Conference Center

Lauren Ksiazek, executive director of the Lorain County Office on Aging, told News 5 that her team conducted a needs assessment for 2021, interviewing 350 people, particularly seniors. She says it has shown a focus on awareness and support around fraud targeting seniors, Medicare, caregiver burnout, affordability in old age, including insurance, etc.

“Lorain County is an interesting county. We’re a relatively large county, but we’re a cross between city, country and suburb. So we have so many different needs…we have to be very proactive in thinking about how to reach those seniors in the different locations and meet them where they are,” Ksiazek said. “The needs assessment sort of kickstarted that back, and we really wanted to focus our education and outreach on what we believe are needs and issues in the community.”

Ksiazek says older adults make up 25% of the county’s population, which is expected to reach 30% before the number drops.

“Approximately half of Lorain County’s older adults cannot afford the recommended level of service they need. We do not have an adult daycare center in Lorain County. We have an age deficiency, which I know everyone has an age deficiency [but] We don’t have any tax. We have no additional funds for aging services.”

Support for older adults is driven by nonprofit and local programs, including the Lifelong Learning Center program offered by the LCCC.

As the program website states: “The Center for Lifelong Learning offers non-credit programs specifically designed for those who are at least 50 years old and/or retired. These programs and courses offer learning opportunities in computers, the Internet, estate planning, professional enrichment, fitness and recreation, world cultures, astronomy, gardening, historical genealogy, antiquing, creative writing, and more. All courses offer adults over the age of 50 the opportunity to take part in classes together with their peers.”

Tom Lamoda enrolled in this quarter’s Basic Drawing course after retiring in January.

“I was looking for things to do and we got a flyer in the mail saying there are some great classes out there and I’ve always wanted to take a drawing class because I was struggling to be a stick figure myself to draw. So I figured this would be a great time.”

News 5 was able to attend the last class of the five-week course, in which Lamoda, a Vietnam veteran, was joined by about a dozen other older adults.

“It brings me back to my old days at school and it’s also kind of refreshing,” Lamoda said. “You hear from people when they retire that you have to find some kind of activity to keep going or how early it is implied that you will think. So I want to stay busy as much as possible.”

The class is taught by her colleague Earl Smith, who began teaching at the LCCC in 2009.

“This inspires me to show you that you can draw. If you leave my five sessions, you will draw,” he said. “A lot of times you feel okay, well I’m of a certain age so I can’t do this anymore, wrong? As long as you have breath in your body you can do what you have to do.”

Lamoda says aging for him means fearlessly making the most of everyday life on the LCCC campus, where his granddaughter also attends and helps him.

“It’s a great environment here. It’s a safe environment. The people are just wonderful. They try to help and they want to help you,” he said. “It was a shot in the arm for me and I’m just really enjoying it.”

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