MUCH MORE THAN A MEAL
Meals-on-Wheels, how can we help you?” Every day that phone greeting can be heard throughout the five offices in San Diego County as inquiries from potential new clients or their family members are answered. Often, phone calls include those made from happy family members with reports of gratitude for helping a loved one who lives alone, or is isolated for at least some part of the day until family can visit. Such is the case when Mike called recently regarding his 93-year-old father, Harry. Harry is lucky as he has a caring family that lives near his Lemon Grove home where he has lived for the last 67 years. Each weekday, Harry’s granddaughter and great-grandchildren come in the afternoon to visit. On the weekends, Harry receives regular visits from his sons and their families. They look in on Harry, help around the house, walk his dog Skipper and make sure everything is OK. And yet, during the morning and early afternoon, Harry was alone.
After Harry’s wife Eva passed nearly 2 years ago, Harry began to lose weight, which baffled his family since they were preparing his evening meals. Harry’s doctor, who was treating him for dementia, was concerned and suggested enrolling him with Meals-on-Wheels. However, Harry was worried about Skipper’s welfare with volunteers coming to the door. Since Skipper likes to run, a simple crack in an open door would be an opportunity for this loving companion to take off for the hills. Assured that a note could be put in Harry’s file so volunteers would be mindful of Skipper’s propensity for freedom, the family gave the meal plan a go. According to Harry’s son, Mike, it has been a huge success. Not only has Harry gained much-needed weight, the family feels that Harry’s mental acuity has improved greatly. “His short term memory, which is where he was having the most challenges, has really improved,” shares Mike. “He is remembering so much more now than he was able to before. There were times where he could not remember when someone came to visit him during the day. That doesn’t seem to happen now.”
This improvement was so striking that Mike took the time to call into the office to share this great news. The family is convinced that the nutritious food, packed full of vitamins D and B, is having a positive cognitive impact on their father, as well as the additional hydration he is getting from the beverages served. Often, when Mike arrives for his visit, his father is enjoying a cold carton of juice, a sight Mike hasn't witnessed in the past. Additionally, the daily routine that involves looking forward to accepting meals from the volunteer, taking out and reviewing all the items that come in the lunch box and deciding what to eat now or save for later, is now just as habitual as taking his medications. “Dad is so healthy now that his check-ups are even better than my own!" shared Mike. "We think the world of the program and would highly recommend it to anyone.”