Many of our communities started with residents that were baby boomers. Now that population has aged and many community members are past retirement age. Unlike past generations, our residents are choosing to stay in their homes instead of moving in with a relative, into a retirement community, nursing home, or assisted-living community. Some Ohio condominium and homeowners associations are experiencing new problems that they never faced before such as the resident who has declining health, can no longer care for him/herself, or competence issues. During the year we receive calls from Board members with questions on how to help an elderly resident who may need assistance. This year many of our attorneys attended a national community association law seminar on associations with an aging population. At the seminar, questions of ability and liability of associations/board members to intervene were discussed and unfortunately there are no clear answers. At this time, our firm recommends depending on the specific situation such as dementia, inappropriate dressing, aggressiveness, hoarding, etc. there are agencies that may be able to provide some assistance to the Board and the elderly member. The following agencies may be helpful to the Board:
Elder Care – 1-800-677-1116 or www.eldercare.gov
Ohio Department of Aging – 614-466-5500 or 800-266-4346
Office of the State-Long term Ombudsman 1-800-282-1206 or http://aging.ohio.gov/contact/ which links to 12 different regional ombudsman programs
It is important to remember when calling an agency for assistance to describe the danger to the resident, not to the property or common elements. These agencies are only concerned with the welfare and safety of the elderly resident and how they assist the resident. For example, if someone has left a pot burning several times and the fire department has been called then the Board should express concern about the member may get severely burned or die in a fire.
The Local Fire Department can offer assistance if there is concern with the condition and safety of the owner’s unit if there is evidence that the owner is a hoarder. The Board could arrange for a representative of the Local Fire Department to view the unit to determine if there is a fire safety issue that requires some remedial action.