Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa and our partners are known for bringing food to seniors in the community that need a little extra help.
They may be unable to cook for themselves, or even go to the store to buy groceries. It’s an essential service, offered at no cost, that helps the more vulnerable members of the community.
But did you know that Meals on Wheels also performs wellness checks? These checks are essential to the community and the well-being of our senior neighbors.
What is a Wellness Check?
A wellness check is a lifeline for many seniors in our community.
Wellness checks are performed by the volunteer delivering the food to seniors. When they arrive at each house on their route, they will stop and talk to the residents and make sure everything is going alright.
They can check to see if the resident’s health is ok, if they need any help, or if they need resources to help solve larger issues. Meals on Wheels has many resources for anything from physical health, to mental health, to accessibility aids like handrails or wheelchair ramps. Many of the seniors in our community might not have access to these vital resources.
These wellness checks allow volunteers to perform an assessment of the situation and provide help if necessary. And even if the residents do not need immediate help, many live isolated lives and do not get many visitors.
Wellness checks provide seniors with someone to connect to and share their lives with.
Why are Wellness Checks Important?
Our volunteers are looking for signs of loneliness. When our seniors are feeling isolated and cut off from family or community, this can cause many mental health problems, including depression. Senior mental health problems are common when getting out of the house is complex, and the seniors do not have strong social connections. Having a wellness check can help to alleviate some loneliness but can also allow volunteers to spot signs that there may be a problem.
Another critical part of the wellness checks is looking for signs of any medical issues.
Many medical conditions that are not spotted early on may become chronic or grow into something much worse. Preventative care is critical. Volunteers for Meals on Wheels and our partners are not medical professionals, but if they spot a new or worsening medical condition, they can relay the message that something is wrong, and the appropriate people will reach out and check-in. They can recommend seeing a doctor or provide resources for the senior to look at.
Senior health is important, and our volunteers always keep an eye out for signs that something is wrong.
What Else Can A Wellness Check Help With?
Wellness checks, first and foremost, can help to identify problems in the lives of seniors that need to be addressed. Many problems that the Meals on Wheels volunteers catch are small problems that have the potential to turn into much larger or chronic problems.
For example, problems around the house and signs of elder abuse.
Many times, a senior’s health declines so much that they may need more help to get around their homes. Adding handrails, ramps, and other accessibility aids can vastly improve a senior’s life. Meal on Wheels volunteers can help spot when something new may be needed and help provide the resources to get the job done and check back in to see if the new additions are helping.
Although many of the seniors in Contra Costa live on their own, there are many who live with friends and relatives. Although our volunteers would never accuse anyone unnecessarily, seniors are at risk of physical, mental, or financial abuse by the people that are supposed to be taking care of them.
When living in isolation, it is hard to get help or even sometimes recognize that something is wrong. Meal on Wheels volunteers can recognize signs of potential abuse and get the appropriate help. No one should be forced to live in an abusive situation, and Meals on Wheels can help to spot signs that something is wrong during their wellness checks.
When each senior signs up for Meals on Wheels, they are assigned an intake manager from a partner organization. This manager will check in with their assigned seniors and make sure they have any resources they need available to them.
They can provide resources for physical and mental health, as well as provide referrals for services they need to improve their quality of life. For example, an intake manager may give a referral for a company that builds ramps for a house. They will give the referral and then check back in later to make sure the referral was used.
Getting Help From Meals on Wheels
Having someone assigned to each senior and a volunteer performing wellness checks while delivering food creates a network of help for seniors that they can call on when they need help.
At Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa and our partner organizations, we take the well-being of our senior neighbors very seriously and strive to provide them with the help they need to live fulfilled and independent lives.
If a senior family member or friend needs help, contact us here.