Delivering meals, combating loneliness

One of the biggest risks older adults face is loneliness. Often times people who live alone do not feel like making a meal for just themselves. Perhaps poor health makes it too difficult or they are just not up to it. Memories of days around the table with family filled with conversation, laughter, and love can be a source of sadness. Mealtime becomes more of a chore than a pleasure.

Enter Meals on Wheels. SeniorsPlus, western Maine’s agency on aging, provides nearly 100,000 home-delivered meals to older adults and adults with disabilities throughout Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties. Each meal provides one-third of the daily nutritional requirement for adults.

But, Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal. In addition to the nutritious meal is the companionship and a watchful eye on the health and safety of our seniors. For those who have trouble getting around, we bring the meal to them. For those who can still venture out into their communities, we offer meals in social gathering places, such as senior and community centers. SeniorsPlus also offers an “Around Town” voucher program that can be used at any of our participating restaurants for a suggested donation of $6. For more information, visit www.seniorsplus.org or call us at 1-800-427-1241.

The proportion of Maine’s population that is 60 and older is growing more rapidly than other age groups. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more than 31 percent of Maine’s population will be 60 and older by the year 2030, an increase of 41 percent from 2012. Many of these Mainers live in rural areas, adding to the risk of isolation and loneliness. A Meals on Wheels recipient recently told us, “I look forward to my Meals on Wheels driver’s visit because he’s usually the only person I see all week. Oh sure, the food is delicious, but I most enjoy the visit. We joke with each other and he tells me about his family. I feel like I know his children! And best of all, I know he’s going to come and check on me. Being all alone, that gives me peace of mind.”

Getting to the remote rural locations of our catchment area, especially during Maine’s severe winter weather, can be a challenge. On average each month, SeniorsPlus drives 3,500 miles to deliver meals. In the fall of 2017 Subaru of America, Inc. and Meals on Wheels of America donated 50 all-wheel drive 2018 Subaru Outback vehicles to select Meals on Wheels programs throughout the country. We are so grateful to have been chosen to receive one of the two vehicles awarded to Maine.

This generous donation has enabled staff and volunteers of SeniorsPlus to reach 75 more seniors and serve 1,500 more meals each month. Every one of those deliveries combats loneliness and increases the opportunity for our older adults to stay in their homes, where they want to be. Thank you Subaru of America and Meals on Wheels America!

If you know someone who could benefit from receiving meals, please call SeniorsPlus at 1-800-427-1241 for more information.

Holly Zielinski is the Chief Operating Officer for SeniorsPlus.

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