More than a Mid-Day Meal

Since his wife’s death two years ago, Howard lives alone in a small apartment that overlooks a quiet marsh. His eyesight has started to fade, so he no longer is able to enjoy reading– previously his favorite pastime. He tried books on tape, but it’s just not the same. Television irritates him and he never learned to use a computer. Howard’s children and grandchildren call or stop in to visit occasionally on the weekends, but their busy lives keep them away during the week. Time passes very slowly. The highlight of Howard’s day is the daily visit from his Meals on Wheels home-delivered meals driver, Sam.

Many people in the elder community face daily social isolation. This might be due to the death of a spouse or partner, separation from friends or family, retirement, loss of mobility, and lack of transportation, to name just a few reasons a person might become isolated from society.

From the moment we are born, we humans are social creatures. When we experience social isolation and loneliness, we are subject to a higher risk for a variety of physical and mental conditions– high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.

Senior nutrition programs nationwide tackle both the difficulties of food insecurity and isolation brought on by being homebound. SeniorCare’s Meals on Wheels home-delivered meals service delivers a nutritious meal to 600+ people Monday through Friday, 52 weeks a year. In a recent survey of our home-delivered meal consumers, 79% of respondents reported that their home-delivered meal is the main meal of their day and 83% reported that this daily meal helps them to live independently in their home.

Meals on Wheels drivers are frequently the only person a meal recipient sees during the day, and often a friendship develops between the driver and consumer as they chat each day during meal deliveries. In the survey, 47% meals recipients reported that they feel less lonely because of their interaction with their Meals on Wheels driver.

Some comments from Meals on Wheels recipients and their families were:

  • My daughter works during the day, and I am legally blind and cannot prepare meals for myself. Having someone come to the door with a hot meal and a big smile breaks up an otherwise lonely day.
  • We are so thankful to receive this meal daily. It has helped us out so much. Our driver Tom is wonderful. He is so kind and thoughtful to my mother and me.
  • The drivers check on me every day. Without them I would be alone and lonely again. They mean as much to me as the meal and I know they care about me.

Meals on Wheels drivers are trained to keep an eye out for possible difficulties.  Is the condition of the home different? Is the meal recipient suddenly forgetting things? Is their pet looking unhealthy? Drivers are encouraged to report anything that seems like it may be a problem. SeniorCare then follows up with the consumer or their family.  Meals on Wheels drivers have also initiated 9-1-1 calls when an elder appears to be in danger.

The first home-delivered meal program in the United States began in 1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Since then, Meals on Wheels has grown to be a nationwide program, feeding approximately 2.4 million older Americans annually.

SeniorCare’s Meals on Wheels program serves to residents of Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Ipswich, Hamilton, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Topsfield, and Wenham. If you or a person in your life could benefit from receiving a friendly visit and a daily meal, please call 978-281-1750 and ask to speak with the Meals on Wheels team. Anyone outside of the SeniorCare service area can call SeniorCare and they will be directed to the agency that covers their community.