Just a Meal? If I may, for a moment, have you imagine a scenario. Picture this, your precious elderly parent or grandparent living at home, alone. They have no family living close to them or all of their loved ones have passed away. They no longer drive because their vision is failing and their reaction time has slowed. Their income, minimal. They spend every penny they have on their bills, medical needs, tithes and a few groceries to get them by that month. They rarely see anyone and interaction with anyone is rare. So, what is their saving grace? A friendly driver from their local senior center! When they live in the city, that driver checks on them Monday through Friday. The driver brings them a warm meal and interacts with them, ask them how he/she is doing but most importantly smiles to let that individual know he or she is still an important and integral part of that community. In the county, the driver sees them once a week. He brings a warm meal and four frozen meals to get that sweet senior citizen through the week. He may also grab their newspaper on the way in the door but again, he smiles and interacts with them. Sometimes, the only other interaction they have is with someone on the other end of the phone trying to get their bank account information. It might seem minimal but that small interaction for the person who just lost their spouse, that person who can no longer drive, that person who just had an operation; it is allowing them to get through another day. The driver develops a rapport with that precious blessing and mentions that the senior center does have a van that can transport them to the center where they can play bingo, sing, exercise and just enjoy visiting with others. At first, he or she is hesitant. Maybe they are embarrassed because of a medical condition or do not like to use their walker or wheelchair in front of others. However, they do not attend the center right away, but eventually they decide they might want to try it out. They attend and love it. They even know people who are already attending and getting to eat a hot noon meal while visiting with friends and old classmates. They are singing and smiling again. Their mental health begins to improve and before you know it, so does their physical health. So, what happens when this program, when the senior center and home delivered meals no longer exist? The individual becomes depressed again, no interaction with others and their mental and physical health decline. They are no longer able to care for themselves and eventually, are forced to leave their home that they have known their entire lives and enter a facility. So, in the end, was it really just a meal? Contact your local senior center to find out what you can do to help these programs and your senior citizens thrive. Diane Wilson Senior Activity Center located in Perryville can be reached at 501-889-5587 and T.C. Vaughan in Morrilton can be reached at 501-354-0502. Written by Amber Holland October 2019
To find more information or apply for Home Delivered Meals, please click the following link.