“Sometimes we’re the only person they see all day,” said Johnny, the Meals on Wheels deliverer who graciously let me shadow him on his route, “Can you imagine that?” Johnny is exactly what Meals on Wheels recipients need: a warm, smiling face who remembers them. During their 20- to 30-second exchange at the door, he asks after these older people. He cares.
More than ever before, older Americans are living alone. AARP has rightly called “social isolation” one of the biggest challenges we will face as an aging society. Research tells us isolation is the health-risk equivalent of 15 cigarettes a day. But its effects can be ameliorated much more fully than a pack-a-day habit. We can do something about it.
Imagine this instead: When you receive a meal, you also get an added bit of nourishment — an invitation to creatively interpret your world.
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