Imaging living 1,100 miles away from your 96-year-old parent. Now imagine that your elderly parent has been diagnosed with early dementia and cardiac issues, and the world just entered a global pandemic. Beth*, the daughter of Meals on Wheels client, Helen*, has been facing these exact challenges.

Beth moved out of state 15 years ago and her mother, Helen, remained alone in Northampton in senior housing. No matter how hard Beth tried to convince her mother to move in with her, Helen is determined to stay living in her hometown. So, every month Beth makes the 17-hour journey to check in on her mom. When Helen’s* health started to decline, Beth* knew that she needed some extra help.

At first, Beth would manage with a combination of help from two home health aides, multiple daily phone calls and “remote showering” – where Helen puts the phone on speaker while Beth listens and walks her mother through the showering process. Once COVID hit, however, it became more difficult for Beth to get extra food to her mother on a weekly basis. This is when she discovered Meals on Wheels. The daily volunteer visits take some of the stress away; “It truly takes a small village to let an elderly, dementia person live independently”.

It is not just the friendly volunteer visits that have helped, but also the nutrition from the meals that Helen is receiving. Helen’s snacking habits are gone and have been replaced with muscle building protein and vitamin-rich veggies. Helen is thrilled with the meals and is glad that she no longer has to cook! Helen excitedly says to her daughter, “Why didn’t you find this sooner?!”

Both Helen and Beth are grateful that there is a program like Meals on Wheels. Now when Beth comes to visit Helen, she no longer worries about making a month’s worth of meals for her mom. Instead, they can just enjoy quality mother-daughter time and making more memories.