The Council on Aging services meet basic, direct and immediate need among Central Oregon's low-income and high risk seniors. Services, which include meal delivery and nutrition programs, case management, and caregiver support, are vitally important to seniors' health and quality of life. The expertise of the staff, the commitment of its board, and the dedication of its more than 200 volunteers combine across the diverse communities of Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson Counties to support one of the region's greatest assets - its seniors.
Meals on Wheels - Each year, the Council on Aging provides more than 75,000 Meals on Wheels to upwards of 675 homebound seniors in the tri-counties. Many live alone, on fixed and limited incomes, with few family supports. They can no longer shop for, prepare, or even afford their own meals. Those residing in rural areas are additionally challenged, as resources are few and far away. Without Meals on Wheels, they would struggle with hunger and malnutrition, experience social isolation, and be at risk for elder neglect and abuse. With Meals on Wheels, they realize improved nutrition, better management of chronic disease, consistent visits from volunteer drivers that guard against anxiety and depression, and ongoing wellness checks that improve both personal health and home safety.
Meals on Wheels also represents a tremendous economic investment in the region. At $3.85 per meal, Meals on Wheels adds more than $288,000 to Central Oregon's food assistance efforts. And the cost savings that accrue by keeping seniors in their homes and out of institutional care are enormous. Harder to quantify, but no less important, are the benefits to seniors of staying in their familiar surroundings, with lower risk of exposure to infection, enjoying their privacy and sense of control with days ordered by comfortable routines.
Case Management - Four full-time case managers conduct in-home visits to assess seniors' needs and determine their eligibility for special programs such as Oregon Project Independence. Case managers assist seniors, their caregivers, and their families in coordinating care so that the senior can remain in his/her home for as long as possible. The case manager conducts a nutritional risk assessment that drives the nutrition education component of care, derives a baseline against which declines in the senior's condition can be gauged, coordinates in-home care, and notes the presence and needs of any caregivers, particularly family caregivers. Case managers maintain confidential client files, administer client surveys to evaluate effectiveness, and interface with other agencies providing service to seniors. Case managers develop long-term relationships with clients as they help them navigate through healthcare and other support systems. In fiscal year 2015 alone, case managers provided upwards up 2,300 hours of direct service to clients.
Caregiver support - As more of us live longer, the need for caregiving increases. Caregiving often comes from natural supports, such as family members, who tend to their elders on an unpaid, 24/7 basis. The council on Aging provides, as funds allow, for scholarships of up to $1,000 so that caregivers can access respite care. Case managers also facilitate caregiver support groups that meet weekly to provide strategies for self-care, connection to needed resources, peer-to-peer learning environments, and problem solving. The Council also supports seniors who are themselves caregivers, often for grandchildren.
Research repeatedly demonstrates the high cost of caregiving to family members in the form of decreased resiliency; increased stress, anxiety and depression; and consequent self-"medication" with food, alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
Aging and Disability Resource Connection - That Council on Aging also serves as the state-appointed lead for the Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) for the entire central swath of Oregon (from the Columbia Gorge south to the California border). Through ADRC, the Council extends its reach not only to seniors, but also to adults with disabilities. The overarching goal of ADRC is to help individuals and families understand their unique needs and anticipate future needs. The ADRC database helps individuals identify resources to meet needs across a broad spectrum including long-term care, assisted living, transportation, and financial security. ADRC's Options Counseling helps seniors and those with disabilities to develop action plans to ensure that needs are met.
Additional services and supports:
In addition to client-intensive services, the Council on Aging advocates for senior needs, raises public awareness of issues related to aging, partners with agencies to meet seniors' transportation needs, and works to reach under-served populations including Latino, Spanish-speaking, and Native American seniors.
"The Council on Aging of Central Oregon does so much to help seniors in our community. We are thrilled to see the Home Instead Foundation offer this opportunity to them for fundraising through GIVE65. This will be the perfect opportunity for the generous people of Central Oregon to help them meet their financial needs this year." Todd and Lori Sensenbach, Local Home Instead Owners
"Meals on Wheels has been a real blessing to me. The volunteer, Mike, genuinely cares. He mails letters for me and always helps me give my dog her medicine. Most days,
he is the only person I see." - Barbara F.
"I was a fairly active Senior Citizen until a vehicle accident in April 2015. I became immobile and housebound. Having no close family or friends, I reached out…A home visit was made and I was approved for Meals on Wheels. I now have hot and healthy meals readily available to me. THANK YOU MEALS ON WHEELS." - Patricia H.
"Dear Meals on Wheels Sponsoring Donors,
Thanks to you, I eat a balanced meal every day, and fewer fig bars and cheese stix. That means I'm benefiting heart-wise in at least three ways:
1: My heart is healthier, because I eat better
2: It is checked on by the super neat delivery volunteers
3: My heart is warmed, because you care
Such a deal with just a meal. I really appreciate you." - Evelyn M.
"Meals on Wheels has helped me enormously. I cannot prepare my meals and I also am without a car. The volunteers check up on me daily -- it is so nice talking to everyone.
Thank you all for your help." - Pamela K.
"I'm 83 years old and can no longer cook nutritious meals. Without Meals on Wheels, I wouldn't eat well. Thank you." - Doris J.
"Thank you so much Meals on Wheels contributors. It has been such a blessing knowing that meals are there for us. And thank you, volunteers, for making the holidays truly special, with gifts for Christmas and roses on Valentine's Day. All are very much appreciated." - Jen J.
"My wife had a stroke, then a blood clot on her lung. Meals on Wheels has been a Godsend to us." - Loyde E.
"Meals on Wheels has helped me and my nutrition, especially due to the fresh fruits and daily vegetables." - Thelma J.
"Because I've delivered over 11,000 meals in the past, I appreciate the program from both the deliverer's and the client's perspective. Meals on Wheels has good physical, psychological and economic benefit for all concerned. Only with Meals on Wheels am I able to live alone in my own home, and for that I am truly thankful." - Evelyn M.
"To Meals on Wheels, I want to thank you for the 2-dozen roses left at my door. I was so surprised! My husband of 70 years, 1 ½ days, always gave me flowers or candy on special days. He went to heaven about 2 years ago. I miss him, but he says I have more work to do here before I can join him. Thank you for making my day," - Betty H., Meals on Wheels, Bend, OR
We work to prevent hunger, improve health, and promote well-being among Central Oregon seniors, caregivers, and those with disabilities. We provide equitable and inclusive services, programs and resources designed to meet immediate and direct need.