by Julie Randolph, Care Coordination Manager
When an older adult works with a Care Coordinator, one of the first discussions is about their nutritional health.
- Is the individual able to shop for groceries, cook, or clean up after a meal?
- Can the individual leave their home to attend a Senior Services Activity and Dining Center?
- Is the individual getting enough daily nutrients, including protein, grains, fruit and vegetables?
- These factors and more help us determine the nutritional health of older adults.
One of the services we provide to help older adults maintain their nutritional health is Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels is a national nutrition program for older adults adopted into law in March of 1972 when President Nixon signed an amendment to the Older Americans Act of 1965. This program has been serving older adults for 50 years.
Senior Services provides Meals on Wheels for older adults who have difficulty leaving their homes and preparing meals. The care coordination assessment determines Meals on Wheels eligibility. Income is not a determining factor for this program. Meals are intended to help during recovery from an illness, surgery, medical treatments, or for frail individuals who would otherwise not have access to proper nutrition. Meals on Wheels can be delivered as long as the need exists. During the initial assessment, older adults have regularly reported fair or poor health, taking three or more medications, and a diagnosis of three or more medical conditions that impact their daily life.
Care Coordinators arrange this service through the Nutrition Department at Senior Services. Each meal must adhere to strict dietary guidelines, meet state and local food safety and sanitation requirements, and appeal to older adults. Ninety percent of our Meals on Wheels clients have reported increased consumption of fruits and vegetables since receiving meals. Ninety-two percent report eating better overall since starting Meals on Wheels.
Senior Services meals are prepared fresh each weekday morning. Nutrition staff, along with guidance from the American Heart Association and American Dietetic Association, ensure the inclusion of proper nutrients while choosing ingredients and menu planning. We follow these guidelines with great care to provide the best nutrition possible.
In Midland County, we prepare and deliver well over 350 hot meals each day Monday through Friday. Meals on Wheels clients receive a hot meal intended for consumption upon arrival. Many of our clients also receive a cold meal, which is delivered with the hot meal, and intended to keep in the refrigerator and eaten as a second meal later that same day. Frozen meals may also be added to the delivery for a hot meal on Saturday and Sunday.
Meals on Wheels not only provides a well-balanced meal, it also combats social isolation. Senior Services has a team of more than 160 volunteers who deliver the meals through 21 routes covering all of Midland County. Oftentimes, the volunteer is the only person the older adult will see that day. Volunteers provide a nutritious meal and a friendly smile, encouraging words and support. Ninety-one percent of Meals on Wheels clients report feeling safer knowing that the volunteer will be checking on them.
In addition to the nutritional and social benefits, the Care Coordinator also works with the older adult to determine other areas where assistance may be helpful. The assessment addresses home safety hazards and an overall check of how the individual handles all daily tasks.
Providing quality nutrition through Meals on Wheels or Center dining is a cornerstone of our mission. Please call (989) 633-3700 to speak with a Care Coordinator to determine if you are eligible for Meals on Wheels.