When to Make a Referral

It seems that we always get more referrals this time of year – the weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year. We attribute it to younger family members seeing their aging parents or grandparents, and realizing their loved one could benefit from home delivered meals.

Mayo Clinic has a good article “Aging Parents: 7 warning signs of health problems” that provides useful suggestions and action steps for those who are starting to care for aging family members or friends. Below is a quick overview:

1. Are your aging parents taking care of themselves. We, including our volunteers, pay attention to our clients’ appearance – has there been a change in how they’re caring for themselves and their home? Is there heat? Is the yard overgrown? Are they able to clear snow/ice from their driveway and stairs to the house?

2. Are your aging parents experiencing memory loss? We all occasionally forget things. But there’s a difference between normal memory loss and that associated with types of dementia. Misplaced keys, glasses, and other items are “normal’. Getting lost in familiar neighborhoods is more concerning.

3. Are your aging parents safe in their home?

4. Are your aging parents safe on the road?

5. Have your aging parents lost weight? Weight loss can be attributed to difficulty cooking, loss of taste/smell or underlying health conditions such as depression, malnutrition, or cancer.

6. Are your aging parents in good spirits? What is their mood like? Have there been any changes? Depression and anxiety are not part of normal aging; they can be treated at any age.

7. Are your aging parents able to get around? Are they unsteady on their feet? Is it difficult for them to use stairs? Have they decreased their physical activity?

Programs like Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels can help if your loved one is having difficulty preparing meals due to physical and emotional health problems. The visit by the volunteer who delivers the meal also serves as a wellness or safety check. We contact you if there concerns and can make referrals for support services.

For more information about eligibility visit http://www.med.umich.edu/aamealsonwheels/mealmakereferal.html.

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New Name, Same Purpose

I have the best job ever. Not only do I get to work with a fantastic group of employees (as a manger I couldn’t ask for a better group!) but I also get to make a difference every day.

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to do what our volunteers to every day: deliver meals. This is one of my favorite aspects of my job. I love seeing the smiles on our clients’ faces, knowing that for many of them, I may be the only person they see all day. From receiving the many heartfelt thanks of appreciation to a big hug by one client, I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face the rest of the day.

Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels recently changed its name from Motor Meals of Ann Arbor. Why the change? We want to be more accessible to the homebound community who need our delicious and nutritiously balanced meals, to volunteers who have the interest and time to deliver and to donors who have the heart and means to give.

One of the problems we had with the Motor Meals name was the constant need to explain what we did. While a great conversation starter, it did little when we didn’t have direct communication with potential customers. In talking about what we did, we often said “it’s like Meals on Wheels”.

Meals on Wheels programs throughout the U.S. and the world are as diverse as the programs where they are located. From volunteer drivers to paid drivers – from catered meals to in-house kitchens – to serving only seniors to persons of all ages and everything in between there is no one “look” of a Meals on Wheels program. The one commonality is our commitment to meeting the nutritional needs of the homebound in each of our communities.

Our new graphic identity was developed by Raquel Weber, a junior designer at the marketing firm re:group, who donated their services to create our new identity. Thank you re:group!

We remain committed to meeting the nutritional needs of the homebound in the Ann Arbor area who are unable to shop and cook for themselves. We continue to rely on our 400+ volunteers to deliver our meals and briefly socialize with our clients. As one board member commented, changing our name doesn’t erase our history, it’s just another chapter.