Meals on Wheels Program Brings Peace of Mind and Joy to Seniors and Their Families
July 9, 2020: Becky Schram remembers her father, Bill, as someone who loved his independence, going on walks with her mom Elizabeth and spending time with family. His sense of independence was vital to who he was, as is true with many seniors who need help meeting their basic needs while continuing to live in their own homes.
To bridge the gap between helping her dad maintain his independence and facing the reality that he needed extra assistance, Becky enlisted Meals on Wheels Chicago to bring meals to Bill each day.
“In my opinion, he needed to be living in a residential setting sooner than he was willing to,” Schram said. “But it was very hard to get him to come around to that idea. His independence was really important to him and he never wanted to let go of that. Meals on Wheels helped him keep his independence.”
Becky and her family were able to gain the peace of mind that Bill, who had developed Alzheimer’s disease, was eating regularly. They found other benefits from the program, too, as the regular visits from the meal delivery drivers provided her dad with the structure that’s so essential for seniors to continue to stay in their own homes.
“[The drivers] went above and beyond what I would expect,” she said. “They would come in and talk to my dad and see how he was doing. He would look forward to the visits…It was helpful for him to have a routine to help him keep a structure to the day.”
The benefits extended to Becky and the rest of her family, as well, as she and her uncle took on the majority of looking after Bill. The program helped them find time to plan out future care for Bill in his final days before he passed away in August 2019 at age 70.
They were able to maintain a sense of security in their own lives as they knew Bill was being taken care of when they couldn’t be there for around-the-clock care, knowing that he was safe and eating well between their visits.
“For the family members who can’t stop working and move in with their parents, just to know this is something that helps your loved one, and helps keep them safe is very comforting,” Schram said. “Through social services like Meals on Wheels, we were able to stabilize as much as possible, and get plans in place to make his end of life care the best it could be.”
Becky and her father were close throughout her entire life, but became especially close during his final years. Meals on Wheels was able to ease some of the stress from her life, her family’s life, and Bill’s life as he kept his independence for as long as he could.
“It was very positive for my dad—not just for the food, but for the interaction,” Schram said. “I think it really brightened his life.”
By Anne Bouleanu, Freelance Journalist and MOWC Contributor