Nourishing our seniors at home

By Holly Steele - For PCCOA

EATON — Help us raise awareness for senior needs. PCCOA is working hard to be proactive and address needs before they become problems. It is important for people to understand the conundrum we are in with our Home Delivered Meals also known as Meals on Wheels (MOW). We would love to be able to serve every person over 60 a meal. But we can’t, that would be over 10,000 meals a day in Preble County alone. We work hard to make sure we are providing meals to the people who need the meals the most. When someone calls for the first time, they are assessed by one of our trained staff. We use a prioritization scale from the Area Agency on Aging and depending on the score, someone may begin receiving meals immediately or they may be placed on the waiting list. Keep in mind the requirements for most of our funders are very strict.

The (MOW) client must be over 60, homebound, unable to fix a meal at home and unable to get to a congregate meal site. When we do a yearly assessment, a person’s situation may have changed and they may no longer qualify for meals. This is good, because we want people to get better. In the reverse, someone may be bumped up on the list if their condition gets worse.

Unfortunately, a waiting list can be 0 one day and 10-20 by the end of that month. Currently, in Preble County, 1 in 4 of us are 60 years of age or older. By 2030, this will be closer to 1 in 3. By 2050, we will begin to see the 60+ population start to decline but the 85-plus population will begin to rise. We are facing aging challenges that we have never seen before.

I mentioned funders above, our contracts entail:

• Title 3 Meals from the Older Americans Act which provides 36 meals/day

• United Way provides seven meals/day

• PASSPORT and ComCare are referral based, and in 2019 they provided approximately 13 meals/day

• EFSP, limited funding in 2019 provided a total of 970 meals for the year

• The rest of our meals are covered from our levy, which in 2019 provided approximately 28 meals/day

• Sponsor-A-Senior Program, with the increase from Patrolling Paws Event, we will be adding 13 people a day for an entire year for a total of 38 meals/day

• Private pay in 2019 we provided approximately 8 meals/day

We allocate 18 percent of our levy dollars to our Meals on Wheels Program. It is the third highest allocation right behind transportation and homemaking. I think everyone can understand why transportation is the highest. We have several funding streams for this program but transportation is very expensive to operate. Homemaking is right behind in our levy allocation because our only other funding for this program is $13,176 per year from United Way. The levy dollars for Home Delivered Meals contributes to the Sponsor-A-Senior Program meals and also to the levy only meals. In addition, it helps to balance the entire meal program dollars.

We must not take the importance of senior services lightly. All of the programs and services we offer at PCCOA are needed to help keep a senior independent and in their own home as long as possible.

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By Holly Steele