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Free Legal Needs Check-Ups Available to Low-Income Seniors in Western Ohio

Eleanor* was living at home with the help of an aide provided by Passport to help her with personal care, housecleaning, and errands when she learned her aide had misused the credit card she had given her to pay for groceries and prescriptions and made unauthorized purchases. Amirah* was the victim of sexual abuse while visiting a family member’s home outside of her nursing facility. Regina* paid a contractor in advance to stain her newly built steps. The contractor took the money and never returned to stain the steps. These are just a few of the real experiences of clients facing financial exploitation or elder abuse — crimes that affect as many as 1 in 10 adults, according to estimates by the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. As Ohio’s population ages, these numbers are expected to rise. By 2030, more than 25 percent of the state’s population will be 60 and older.

Elder abuse includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial exploitation, abandonment, and neglect. Abuse of an older adult happens in many different settings, from adult long-term care facilities to an older adult’s own home. It often goes unreported and can be difficult to identify.

To address the growing challenge of elder abuse, and increase help available, Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO) is offering free Legal Needs Check-Ups for low-income older adults ages 60 and up throughout the month of June, Elder Abuse Awareness Month. The Check-Ups are available as a telephone-based service through our central intake unit, Legal Aid Line.

“As the Delta and Omicron variants of the COVID-19 virus continue to limit or prevent access to senior centers, congregate meal sites, nursing homes, and low-income senior housing sites, we have had to develop creative ways to connect with the older adults in our communities,” says LAWO Managing Attorney Debra Jennings. “This year we decided to offer a Legal Needs Check-Up opportunity by telephone. The initiative will provide a much-needed opportunity to connect with and assist eligible older adults who may be isolated and unable to otherwise connect with us.” 

The Legal Needs Check-Up consists of approximately 15 questions that will help identify whether the caller has legal issues that we or one of partners may be able to assist with. The Check-Up focuses on legal issues facing low-income seniors, and is available to seniors residing in Allen, Ashland, Auglaize, Champaign, Clark, Crawford, Darke, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Greene, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Huron, Logan, Mercer, Miami, Montgomery, Ottawa, Paulding, Preble, Putnam, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert, Williams, Wood, and Wyandot counties. Completion of a Legal Needs Check-Up does not guarantee that the senior will become a client, and additional eligibility requirements may apply.

To get started, call the Legal Aid Line toll-free at 888-534-1432, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. (excluding holidays). Callers will be prompted to enter their 10-digit phone number for a callback that same business day by 5 p.m.

For additional information and resources on elder abuse, visit the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at ABLE.

*Fictitious name to protect the client’s privacy

About the author

Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc.

Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc.

Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO) is a non-profit regional law firm that provide high quality legal assistance in civil matters to help eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio achieve self reliance, and equal justice and economic opportunity.