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April 11, 2017 > Meals on Wheels: feeding appetites and souls

Meals on Wheels: feeding appetites and souls

What does it mean to receive healthy meals delivered with a smile by a warm, caring person?

LifeElderCare Executive Director Patricia Osage can recite a host of facts that validate continuation of this program in economic terms. But, more valuable is the human and emotional support such service brings to those who otherwise would be hard pressed to travel to a grocery store, shop and prepare meals. A dedicated group of approximately 300 volunteers delivering meals over 24 routes in the Tri-City area fill this gap. Over half of the recipients live alone and are over 70 years of age. According to Osage, Meals on Wheels can be the difference for some between nursing home care and staying at home; Òfood is medicine,Ó she says. She adds, that proposed cuts to social services of the U.S. budget would be counterproductive.

Meals on Wheels is not a city program, rather one of the services of LifeElderCare that promotes healthy lifestyles for seniors in the Tri-City area. Recipients are not screened for financial resources although some do contribute to the cost of the meals. Largely dependent on community volunteers, the program also utilizes its resources to provide ÒVIP RidesÓ to allow frail and disabled residents to and from appointments and shopping as well as ÒFriendly VisitorsÓ for companionship and ÒFall PreventionÓ visits to educate about home hazards to increase safety and decrease the incidence of injury by falls. As part of a national program, Meals on Wheels is a lifeline for many seniors who otherwise would be at a higher risk of poor nutrition and isolation that often leads to depression.

On April 7th, community leaders including volunteers for Meals on Wheels gathered to show solidarity in support of core values that Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17) described as Òcompassion and social justice.Ó In a Òbriefing paperÓ authored by Sam Beattie, PhD, Director of Nutritional and Technical Services and Beth Burrough, MBA Chief Marketing Officer and Partner at PurFoods, LLC in Ankeny, IA, the costs of health care in the United States is discussed. Hospital readmission rates are especially high and costly among the elderly. Chronic conditions are responsible for much of this and often include nutrition related issues. The treatise states, Òthe consequences of poor nutritional status in hospital bound seniors are that length of stay and the overall outcome of the patient is at risk.Ó From both a humanitarian and economic perspective, this is a problem often addressed directly by Meals on Wheels. The paper notes that ÒCompromised nutritional status has been shown to have a direct effect on rehospitalization and deathÓ and ÒPreventing readmissions to the hospital could have significant savings to Medicare.Ó

Pocketbook costs are one thing, but the impact on the wellbeing of our senior citizens is immeasurable. As Fremont Mayor Lily Mei said about Meals on Wheels and its effect on recipients, ÒIt not only feeds their appetite, but feeds their souls.Ó Volunteers agreed and expressed the personal gratification they receive as well.

Want to help? Just a few hours a week or month can make a big difference!

Life ElderCare
3300 Capitol Avenue, Fremont
(510) 574-2090
www.LifeElderCare.org

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