Most of us have no issues related to getting the food we need and cooking and eating our meals. The same can’t be assumed of aging seniors. Several issues arise for some in their later years.
Fortunately, we have a great resource at our disposal, which also presents a meaningful opportunity of service.
Seniors Often Face Food Insecurity
According to Mary Schaefer, Executive Director of Mid-East Area Agency on Aging, MEAAA, one in six seniors deal with some kind of food insecurity. Somewhere in the process, something keeps them from enjoying one of life’s most fundamental necessities.
Think about the basic parts of the food gathering process. We go to the grocery store to buy food. We grab a cart, fill it up, take it home, cook it and eat it. No big deal, right? Seniors often have issues with transportation, financial resources, personal mobility, appetite or any number of health issues that keep them from cooking, eating and even swallowing their food.
The Mid-East Area Agency on Aging Offers Solutions
Getting access to the right resources is a life saver. The mission of the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging is clear: They help seniors age in the place where they want to be. Together with their Meals On Wheels program, MEAAA offers ways for seniors to socialize, get transportation, eat regular meals and more. It’s a game changer for many.
MEAAA Meals on Wheels delivers 3,000 meals every day throughout the St. Louis region of Jefferson, Franklin St. Louis and St. Charles counties. Meals on Wheels of Greater St. Louis is funded through the generous donations of churches and other community organizations, regular meals are delivered by volunteers who also take time to visit. The volunteer staff numbers around 350, but they’d love to see that number double.
The MEAAA meals on wheels application to receive services starts with an in-home evaluation. It’s not just about food. During an in-home visit MEAAA staff members sometimes surface other issues that need attention. Volunteers are also needed for the MEAAA Meals on Wheels program.
Senior Centers – A Vital Part of the Solution
Aging in place doesn’t have to mean stuck at home or eating alone. Mid-East Area Agency on Aging offers transportation to shop for food and other necessities. Also important are the senior centers, offering a place to eat, socialize, exercise and take classes. It’s a great way to learn how to navigate through the issues commonly faced by people as they age.
Having a meal with others can stimulate their appetite or discussions about difficulties they’re facing related to eating at home or other aspects of life.
Respite Services Care For Caregivers
Providing care for the caregiver is another service offered by the MEAAA. They not only understand the challenges faced by seniors, but also those faced by their family members providing regular care. The demands on caregivers are often higher than one would expect. Getting relief on occasion is a great help, as is the educational opportunities provided by the agency.
You Can Find Meaningful Involvement
Both MEAAA Meals on Wheels Meals on Wheels of Greater St. Louis are looking for drivers to deliver meals and visit with seniors. They’re both great volunteer organizations, offering varying degrees of service. The minimum regular commitment is one hour, done on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. It’s your choice.
The service is pretty simple. Drivers deliver meals, may bring in the mail and may visit for a while. For some seniors, their Meals On Wheels friend is the only person they see for long periods of time. Training is provided to observe and report on anything unusual or contact family members if needed.
If you’re interested in volunteering or otherwise supporting MEAAA Meals on Wheels, please call 636-207-0847 or visit www.agingmissouri.org to learn more about them. For Meals on Wheels of Greater St.Louis, contact 314-268-1523.