You might be shocked to know that 20-30% of seniors do not have access to a nutritious breakfast. Considering this is one of the most important meals of the day, that can cause a huge problem for their nutritional health.
That isn't the only meal that senior citizens have to go without. Many elderly people can no longer care for themselves or cook for themselves. As a result, they are unable to eat enough to maintain their health, which creates food insecurity.
Senior programs like Meals on Wheels are a great way to solve this problem. Let's look at who qualifies for Meals on Wheels in Arkansas, as well as other information about this senior care program.
What Is It?
Before we discuss who qualifies for Meals on Wheels, let's talk about what this program is. Meals on Wheels is a program that delivers hot, nutritious meals to aging seniors within the community.
Drivers deliver hot meals to the homes of homebound individuals as part of this amazing program. Sometimes the drivers are paid, and other times they are volunteers.
The drivers are responsible for more than just delivering the meals. As people who have regular interactions with those they serve, they can also check for signs of crisis with the individuals they visit. The volunteers can then notify the proper channels of any problems they find to the program directors.
Can You Receive Meals on Wheels?
Meals on Wheels provides an amazing service for homebound individuals. But, who qualifies for this program?
Meals on Wheels serves anyone who is unable to leave their home due to illness, frailty, or disability. However, you do not have to be a senior to benefit from having a fresh and nutritious meal delivered to your door by a kind and caring person.
The general guidelines to qualify for the program are as follows:
- Be 60 years or older and/or
- Must be disabled
- Be homebound
- Have no caregiver to help with meal preparation
- Live within the meal delivery area
In addition, the spouse of an eligible individual may be eligible for Meals on Wheels. They may also be eligible for the program if they have other disabled dependents.
Keep in mind that some agencies have more restrictions and exceptions than others. It's crucial to check with your local Area Agency on Aging to see if the program is right for you or a loved one.
How are Meals on Wheels Prepared?
To ensure the meals are fresh, they are prepared, packaged, and delivered to the individuals on the same day. Meals can be delivered in boxes, insulated bags, or special vehicles that keep the food warm. Monday through Friday is when most deliveries are made from your local Senior Center.
Sometimes, Friday deliveries include frozen meals. These help keep the seniors going through the weekend when they won't get active deliveries. They can also serve as a backup meal if something happens to prevent the driver from reaching the home one day.
What Benefits Can Meals On Wheels Provide?
Seniors are at a much greater risk for malnutrition because of the disproportionate number who do not have the ability to access healthy food. About 16% of the seniors in Arkansas are considered to be food insecure. Even for seniors who do have access to healthy food, limited mobility makes it more difficult for them to prepare their own meals. This lack of nutrients can cause new and worsening health issues, which could cause slow healing and even hospitalization. Beneficial services like Meals on Wheels will give them time and energy to devote to other things in their lives.
Meals on Wheels for seniors provides face-to-face contact with someone up to five days a week when their food is delivered by a volunteer. Individuals who are homebound, particularly the elderly, frequently experience isolation and its negative consequences. Brown University found that seniors who participated in the Meals on Wheels program benefited from the face-to-face contact itself and helped prevent depression, falls, and even hospitalizations, in some cases. This is a greatly needed benefit especially for those who may live alone or at a distance from their close friends and family.
How to Find Meals on Wheels Near Me
How to get Meals on Wheels in Arkansas depends on the area of the state in which you live. The Meals on Wheels program is implemented using your local chapter of the Arkansas Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
For folks in Clark, Conway, Garland, Hot Springs, Johnson, Montgomery, Perry, Pike, Pope, and Yell counties, contact the Area Agency on Aging of West Central Arkansas to see if you or your loved one qualifies for Meals on Wheels.
Important Next Steps
After you get connected with your Area Agency on Aging via phone, email, or in-person visit, their Information and Assistance team will schedule an initial assessment. Some information or items that may be helpful during the assessment to determine the scope of care or other areas of need may include:
- Dietary restrictions (e.g., food allergies and/or diabetes)
- Emergency contacts
- Current medical issues (including chronic)
- Prescription list
- Adaptive equipment used (e.g., Walker, lift chair, etc…)
- Primary care physician contact information
- Secondary or specialist physician contact information
- Health insurance information
- A general timeline of any hospitalizations
Get Started Today
Meals on Wheels is an excellent way to ensure seniors eat nutritious, well-balanced meals and get enough nutrients in their bodies.
Are you ready to start with Meals on Wheels or other senior care services? Our team can help. Get in touch to learn more about our senior care services in Hot Springs, Russellville, and the rest of Arkansas.