Edit ModuleShow Tags

Meals on Wheels Offers More Than a Meal

The program studies how to better look out for seniors’ health and safety


Published:

Photos courtesy of Meals on Wheels America

It’s something that local Meals on Wheels volunteers have known anecdotally for a long time: Human interaction can improve a senior’s health and quality of life. The simple act of delivering a warm meal to a homebound senior can provide needed social interaction while giving a window into changes in their health.

“We’re the ones who cross their threshold day-to-day,” says Debbie Case, president and chief executive officer of Meals on Wheels San Diego County. “We’re the ones reporting back that Ms. Smith isn’t doing so well. She’s moving slower, her breathing doesn’t sound as good as it did yesterday.”

Homebound seniors happily greet volunteers who will soon be trained to notice potential problems and report back to health care providers.

Meals on Wheels San Diego County serves anyone over the age of 60 regardless of income, though the largest percentage of recipients are over the age of 82.

The national Meals on Wheels network is trying to determine how to best track and report those daily observations in the third phase of its ongoing “More Than a Meal” research project. Now in the first of a two-year collaboration with Brown University’s Center For Gerontology and Healthcare Research and the La Jolla–based Gary and Mary West Health Institute, Meals on Wheels is studying ways to integrate health and safety screenings into daily meal deliveries. San Diego is one of six research markets nationwide.

Volunteers won’t be trained to make clinical decisions, but rather to clue in to potential problems that can be reported back to caregivers and health care providers, according to Dr. Zia Agha, West Health Institute’s executive vice president of clinical research and medical informatics. They might ask pertinent questions, or just run through a mental checklist of potential red flags, such as: Does the senior have a fall risk, like wires or rugs? If the volunteer is putting food in the fridge, is the food inside rotting? Does the senior look more disheveled today? Do they have bruising?

“We hope that by using that data, we can identify patients at risk and recommend interventions,” Agha says. “The human connection is still important and very valuable to our overall health.”

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Top Doctors 2016: Innovation in Health and Medicine

San Diego's 2016 Top Doctors

700 physicians in 76 specialties, from pediatrics and rheumatology to plastic surgery and dermatology.

Point Loma Woman Helps Repurpose Medical Equipment

After a life-changing visit to Uganda, Laura Luxemburg makes it her mission to turn trash into treasure

Meals on Wheels Offers More Than a Meal

The program studies how to better look out for seniors’ health and safety

Innovative Sciene: Next-Gen Genomics

A local research institute is aiming to make genome sequencing as easy as checking your cholesterol

I Tried It: Hypnosis

A local doctor says the source of many bad habits is often all in our heads

Data Crisis: Who Owns Your Medical Records?

Electronic records are increasingly hard to keep secure and store

Miracle Babies in Mexico

A San Diego nonprofit gives new hope to preterm babies in Baja

San Diego to Get First Geriatric ER

UC San Diego Health is building a new ER for the over-65 set

Cross-Border Health: Megaregion Medicine

San Diego is on the cusp of enjoying binational health care

I Tried It: Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

A centuries-old branch of medicine is gaining renewed traction for its integrative principles.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Point Loma Woman Helps Repurpose Medical Equipment

After a life-changing visit to Uganda, Laura Luxemburg makes it her mission to turn trash into treasure

Innovative Sciene: Next-Gen Genomics

A local research institute is aiming to make genome sequencing as easy as checking your cholesterol

I Tried It: Hypnosis

A local doctor says the source of many bad habits is often all in our heads
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Best of San Diego 2019
    Our annual compilation of everything delicious, cool, and Instagrammable in San Diego (and Baja!)
  2. The Problem With Bright Red Tuna
    Many Americans still think bright red tuna means it’s fresher (it’s not)
  3. First Look: Animae
    Puffer Malarkey Restaurants unveil 5.5 million-dollar pan-Asian concept
  4. Jason Mraz and his Historic Coffee Bean
    The singer and Bird Rock Coffee Roasters unveil the first California-grown Geisha coffee
  5. Morning Glory Is a Millennial Wonderland
    The Little Italy restaurant may finally break San Diego's aversion to brunch
  6. A Deep Dive into the San Diego Fishing Industry
    A $2 billion project is poised to revive San Diego’s commercial fishing industry
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles

October is Rideshare Month

Join the Rideshare 2015 Challenge and get there together
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

The Vape Debate

Two Scripps doctors weigh in on this dangerous trend

Kaiser Permanente San Diego Makes Life Easier

Kaiser Permanente brings high quality, affordable care to San Diegans when and where they need it
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags