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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Nutrition Programs Available in Most Areas Deliver Meals to Homebound Seniors

Caregivers and seniors in most areas who are homebound or frail can arrange to have local Seniors' Nutrition Programs deliver balanced meals Monday through Friday, including extra meals that are frozen to keep for the weekend. A small donation is accepted but not necessary. For information in your area you can contact your local Area Agency on Aging or ask at a local seniors center for information.

I spoke with Senior Nutrition Program specialist Deb Clark, (pictured in the photo) about it last week. She uses the kitchen at the Central Coast Seniors Center as a base of operations for the Oceano area. Deb provides about 30 meals a day at the Central Coast Seniors Center and another 50 or so are delivered to homebound seniors and their caregivers. Often the meals go out to a family member who is a caregiver, as well as a homebound or disabled person.

This also serves a purpose for those who live alone of having someone stop by daily to see if a frail senior is alright or needs help. Many seniors also wear a Life Alert Emergency Medical Response call button on a cord like a necklace or as a wrist bracelet so that help is just a push button away.

The meals arrive in styrofoam containers and the portions are large enough that many seniors have leftovers for an afternoon snack or with dinner. When an elderly spouse is a caregiver it can be a great help to have meals delivered for both people. On Friday some elderly couples have extra meals for the weekend delivered that they can freeze and microwave later.

For seniors who are not housebound the meals are also served in various locations and your local Area Agency on Aging can help you find a serving location near you.

For example, at the Central Coast Seniors Center about 30 seniors arrive around 11:30 each day and enjoy a hot, well-balanced meal while having a chance to interact socially. Isolation and loneliness can be a problem for seniors, and a chance to have lunch with a group of friends is a big help. The group can become a supportive group, and Deb Clark, who manages the one at the Central Coast Seniors said she feels they are part of "her family." Birthdays and special occasions are shared, and friendships develop.

Seniors who are homebound or frail are at risk for neglecting their nutrition and if they have a balanced meal delivered or go to a location to share a meal with others it's one way family members know they are getting a healthy meal.

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