LUCAS COUNTY (WTOL) - First, it was a partnership between Lucas County Children’s Services and the Lucas County Sheriff’s DART office in 2017. Now, it’s a partnership between the Area Office on Aging and DART. Both partnerships allowing each county agency to hire their own DART officer.
With an estimated 908 adults aged 60 and older abusing opioids in Lucas County, leaders have become acutely aware there's an older face to addiction. They are seeking local strategies to combat it.
Retired Maumee Police Officer Jeffrey Medere will now be providing confidential assistance to older adults through the DART office.
"We targeted the kids, years ago. We never thought the older folks would be addicted,” Lucas County Sheriff’s Deputy and DART Officer Jeffrey Medere said.
In 2017, Lucas County adults aged 65 and older visited the ER around 48 times for drug overdoses more than double the number in 2012. Deputy Jeff Medere will be educating older adults in Lucas County on how they can prevent and recover from opioid addiction.
"He will be going out to various senior centers, nutrition sites, dining sites, churches, anyplace where older adults congregate. And he is going to implement an educational campaign,” Billie Johnson, CEO of the Area Office on Aging, said.
Yet in addition to education, Deputy Medere will provide a watchful eye for older adults. The sheriff’s office said it’s common for many seniors to become victims of theft, facing friends and family who visit and steal their pain medication.
Additionally, they can become targets at senior centers and other facilities for the opioids they often carry. Older adults also share medication with their friends to help them with their pain, not realizing their friends could potentially become addicted.
The Area Office on Aging wants Deputy Medere to build relationships with seniors and connect them to healthy lifestyles. It’s something the 33-year-law enforcement veteran is eager to do.
"I like to help that group of folks that have maybe been overlooked in the past. And it's a new concern that we have, and we're addressing it, first ones in the country probably,” Deputy Medere said.
As communities continue to battle addiction, leaders say they want to be specific in meeting the needs of each demographic. The Sheriff’s Office expects DART officers will continue to be partnered with more specific groups in the future.