For over 60 years, Meals on Wheels San Diego County has fought malnutrition and loneliness, two of the biggest threats to the well-being of homebound seniors. Seniors are at serious risk of major illness and complications from COVID-19, creating an even greater need for home-delivered, nutritious meals. Social distancing has also cut many more older adults off from their family and support networks, making them vulnerable to the negative health effects of isolation.
In 2020, Meals on Wheels San Diego County delivered nearly 600,000 meals in San Diego County. That’s a 50 percent increase in the number the organization normally serves.
Today, Meals on Wheels San Diego County delivers 50,000 meals per month.
Federal government data shows that up to 16 percent of Americans older than 65—and even more of those in hospitals or other institutions— are at high risk for malnutrition. According to the AARP, more than eight million older adults are affected by isolation, and the physical health risks are detrimental. Researchers have found that loneliness is just as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Studies have even suggested a link between isolation and increased risk of Alzheimer’s.
Meals on Wheels San Diego County volunteers are essential. The organization needs volunteers to meet its growing demand—and to provide a critical link to more support for isolated seniors. A volunteer may be the only person a client sees all day, providing human contact and a safety net of compassion and conversation, particularly for those seniors living alone.
Although COVID-19 restrictions mean volunteers can no longer enter homes during deliveries, they still chat with seniors outside from a safe distance for a few minutes while wearing a face mask and gloves.
Lives are saved nearly every week because a volunteer called the proper emergency personnel for someone who has fallen, had a stroke, or simply needs additional resources.
Visit meals-on-wheels.org for more information on how to get involved.
The impact Meals on Wheels has on the seniors they serve goes far beyond the wholesome meals provided. Daily friendly contact provides important socialization for those who may be isolated with little or no connection to the outside world. Lives are often saved in the course of delivering meals when a person does not respond to a knock on the door, has fallen, or may have become ill. For 60 years, Meals on Wheels San Diego County has contributed to the overall well-being of seniors by providing regular nutrition and daily contact with a caring volunteer. Learn more at www.meals-on-wheels.org or call 800.5.SENIOR.