Providing Nutrition and Peace of Mind

Last week, I had the opportunity to give a presentation to the Ann Arbor Downtown Kiwanis Club about Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels and the Housing Bureau for Seniors. The Kiwanis Club is already familiar with both programs, as they’ve been supporting us for several years. They go a step further with Meals on Wheels and have their own daily route, plus an additional weekly route.

During the Q&A session, several members had questions about the operational side of MOW, shared how much they got out of delivering and their own personal experience with Ann Arbor MOW. One member had heart surgery and the meals were a life saver during his at-home recovery. He wouldn’t have eaten were it not for MOW. Another shared about his experience as an adult child of a parent who was receiving meals from us.

The volunteer showed up at his mom’s house and when they entered the home saw that she appeared to have had a stroke. They called us, we in turn called 911 and the ambulance came and took her to the hospital. She had indeed suffered a stroke. While she never returned home, having moved to a long-term care facility, the family was extremely grateful for the service.

Because we check in with our clients every day, or most every day, we often see older adults more frequently than their family. And sometimes, we serve as that critical lifeline. While most situations we encounter are not true emergencies, like the Kiwanian’s mother, we let family members or emergency contacts know when:
• there are concerns about a client’s hygiene or upkeep of their home,
• we notice a decline in a client’s health or functional status, and
• we can’t reach a client for a scheduled meal delivery.
We provide peace of mind to adult children – especially those who don’t live in the area and can’t check in on their aging relative as often as they’d like.

The delivery of the meal also provides our clients with the opportunity to briefly socialize with our volunteer. For many of our clients, the volunteer is the only person they see all day. We have some volunteers who will save their “favorite” client for last so that they have time to visit without feeling rushed in needing to get to the next stop on the route. I know when I deliver to a client who is lonely or loves to chat, it’s really hard to tell them I can’t visit any longer because I still have 10 meals to deliver!

Our volunteers deliver 10-13 meals, taking 1-2 hours to complete a route. Meals are picked up at our office at 2025 Traverwood Suite F, Ann Arbor at 11:30am Monday – Friday, and at 9:30am or 10:30am on Saturday depending on the time of year (read Michigan football season).

Volunteers can deliver as often as they want. We have some volunteers who deliver once a week, others once a month and some don’t have a regular schedule, but instead serve as subs – coming in when we have an opening. We have parents and grandparents who bring their children, golf buddies, lifelong friends, spouses and partners, service club members….the list goes on!

A few years ago, one of our clients told us “The food event and the social event are each in their own way the most important events of the day for lonely, elderly folks.”

If you have time to give, and want to make a difference among the homebound “lonely, elderly folks” in Ann Arbor who are unable to shop and cook for themselves, we’d love to hear from you!

Give us a call at (734) 998-6686 or send us an email at aamealsonwheels@umich.edu.

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