LOA Meals on Wheels Helped Me Remain in My Home
Jerry suffered a major stroke at the young age of 61. The stroke left him wheelchair bound and with limited use of his right hand and arm. His speech and his vision were also affected. At first, his wife was able to care for him until she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer just two years after Jerry’s stroke. At this point, both Jerry and his wife needed assistance and were at a crossroads they never imagined. Who was going to care for them and how were they going to stay in their own home?
When they were first referred to Meals-on-Wheels, their only daughter, Cindy, was trying to manage their care but felt overburdened, as many caregivers do. She is part of the “sandwich generation,” which means she is caring for her parents as well as her teenage children that are still in the home, all while trying to work a full-time job. It was at this point that Cindy reached out to LOA for help.
Jerry has been on the Meals-on-Wheels program for a little over two years now and his wife was on the program for a month before she passed away. Jerry is always sitting at his kitchen table, in his motorized wheelchair, waiting on the volunteers to come. With tears in his eyes, he said the volunteers are usually the only people that he sees besides his daughter and her family. He says he waves to the neighbors but it has not been the same since the stroke because he cannot get out to visit them. He also looks forward to the hot meals and eats them right away. Due to the stroke it is very difficult for him to use a stove or even a microwave.
His daughter says Meals-on-Wheels has helped her maintain her full-time job and gives her peace of mind knowing that someone is checking on him at lunch. She feels that Meals-on-Wheels has allowed him to safely stay in his own home after his wife passed away and does not know what she would do without the program.
Last year, in LOA’s service area which includes the rural county of Botetourt where Jerry resides, 847 seniors lived healthier and safer in their own homes because volunteers provided friendly visits and well-being checks while delivering 129,797 meals.
Local Office on Aging Celebrates Older Americans Month This May
Across the country, a rapidly growing population of older Americans are taking part this month in activities that promote wellness and social connection in observance of Older Americans Month. They are sharing their wisdom and experience with future generations, and are giving back to enrich their communities. They’re working and volunteering, mentoring and learning, leading and engaging. The Local Office on Aging invites you to participate!
For 55 years, Older Americans Month has recognized older Americans and their contributions to our communities. Led by the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging, every May offers opportunities to hear from, support, and celebrate our nation’s elders. This year’s theme, “Engage at Every Age,” emphasizes the importance of being active and involved, no matter where or when you are in life. You are never too old (or too young) to participate in activities that can enrich your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
It is becoming more apparent that remaining socially engaged can improve the quality of life for older adults. When the Local Office on Aging thinks “Engage at Every Age,” our many wonderful and dedicated older volunteers immediately come to mind. LOA’s Meals on Wheels volunteers not only add to the social and nutritional welfare of this community’s homebound elderly, they are enriching their own lives and remaining young by contributing to the lives of others. The same holds true for LOA’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Volunteer Master Trainers, LOA’s very knowledgeable Insurance Counselors, LOA’s varied Soup for Seniors volunteers, and the many others who come to us to aid in different endeavors.
Ellie has been a dedicated Soup for Seniors volunteer for the past six years. She started out picking up at a few of the drop-off sites and moved on to delivering door to door. Now, she knows many of those she delivers to by name and looks forward to the time she gets to spend with them each February. “Giving means getting something in return,” she says. “What I put into being a volunteer always comes back to me. The time spent with these seniors can change your life and theirs.”
Harold has been a LOA Meals on Wheels volunteer for 13 years. He gets up every morning, but says he particularly enjoys getting up on the mornings he is scheduled to deliver his route. “I feel closer to those that I deliver to than I do to some members of my family,” he said. “I guess that makes them family.”
Harold started delivering meals with his wife. After she become ill, he continued to volunteer with the LOA, while caring for his wife at home. “Volunteering provided that sense of normalcy that was much needed at a very stressful time in my life,” he shared. “I became more vested in my volunteer role, realizing how much the service I was providing was needed.”
“The LOA was recognized this year as having delivered more Meals on Wheels than any other agency in Virginia. We were able to attain that recognition because of the many volunteers who help us make the meal delivery possible,” said Ron Boyd, LOA CEO. “We value the contributions made by all of our volunteers and the seniors we serve every day. It was an easy decision to celebrate Older Americans Month, with the theme Engage at Every Age in honor of them.”