A weekend meals program targeted at the most needy and nutritionally at-risk seniors in the Portland area. Many of these seniors live in studio apartments or hotel rooms, subsist on low incomes and have no access to food. Our volunteers deliver a healthy meal, stay for a short visit, and check up on the welfare of these seniors -- and they're often the only person each senior will see that day.
The elderly in our community are often overlooked, especially those who are hungry. 70 percent of our Meals on Wheels clients are in nutritional risk. Many of them live alone and try to manage on limited incomes. Malnutrition in the elderly causes loss of muscle mass, weakness and fatigue, impaired immune response, and higher risk of falls and infection. Meals on Wheels People addresses this very basic need; our meals are a crucial service for seniors in this fragile economic climate.
Very often, poor nutrition causes symptoms that mask themselves as other diseases and can send a senior to the hospital or to a care facility. Meals on Wheels People meets this basic need for nutrition, but also provides socialization and safety checks, in our effort to help them maintain their independence and remain in their own homes. At the same time, we are saving local and state funds by reducing the need for more costly care.
The long term benefit of this program is profound; knowing that someone who cares will be bringing a hot meal and checking in on them is a lifeline for these seniors. The financial benefit to the community is also important. Fifty percent of chronic health conditions in the elderly can be improved with proper nutrition. In fact, the cost of a whole year's meals is less than the cost of one week of nursing home care.