Senior Support Services
Together, We're Fighting Loneliness
In early 2023, MOWSTx will expand socialization and peer support programming to an eight-county region, utilizing senior (age 55+) volunteers to serve as peer companions.
Currently, we are recruiting volunteer teams in each county, and we plan to begin training soon.
AARP research indicates that 29.91% of individuals in our service area age 50 and up volunteer at least once a month. Ours is a community who want to give back, especially those who've retired and seek a fulfilling way to fill their days. Volunteers in our Senior Support Services program will:
- Help clients access healthy food by assisting with grocery shopping and cooking.
- Serve as companions and, hopefully, friends.
- Relieve some of the burden on caregivers through the above modes of assistance.
- Transport clients to out-of-town medical appointments and care.
Please note: Our volunteers will not replace professional home caregivers or be expected to assist with physical transfer, sanitary needs, or other aid requiring specialized training.
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Through county-by-county research, we were able to identify the specific problems faced by our region's older adults. A striking statistic across all counties was the AARP-reported risk of social isolation; Texas is scored at just 15.3%, while counties in our service area are scored at best double that number, at worst nearly five times the statewide score. In many counties, as much as 8% of the population are older adults living alone, and many - up to 13.5% - are disabled older adults.
The need for social support inspired the core structure of this pilot program. But we are, at our core, an organization which addresses hunger. Food insecurity and lack of access to healthy foods is critically high in our region of Texas. While we are not yet delivering meals to all zip codes of our expanded service area, our AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers will support nutritional health through grocery shopping and limited kitchen assistance. For many homebound older adults, the access element is all that's needed to make a profound impact on their health: Many might be able to cook limitedly but cannot drive to the store; many more might have all of the resources to purchase fresh grocery goods but cannot safely hold knives or hot pans to chop, cut, and cook healthy ingredients. For our part, as an organization, we will connect older adults with other home-delivered meals organizations serving our expanded service area and aim to expand those organizations' capacity where we can help.
Much of our expanded service area is rural. Rural communities face the constant struggle of having the highest needs but the lowest levels of service to their homes. If an older adult living at their family home deep in unincorporated county can't drive for up to an hour, they may not be able to consistently reach a grocery store, make routine medical appointments, or access the specialized care we need in our later years. Senior Support Services acknowledges our rural neighbors and seeks to equitably serve all older adults, urban and rural.
|Aransas County||81.4% Risk of Social Isolation²||8.1% Age 65+ and Living Alone²||Medically Underserved||18.2% Food Insecure¹||16.2% Lack Access to Healthy Food¹||28.2% Age 65+¹|
|Calhoun County||48.4% Risk of Social Isolation²||14.1% Diabetes Prevalence¹||14.1% Food Insecure¹||28.3% Lack Access to Healthy Food¹||18.9% Age 65+¹|
|DeWitt County||62.4% Risk of Social Isolation²||Low Life Expectancy Among Black Residents¹||14.8% Food Insecure¹||20.3% Age 65+¹|
|Goliad County||85.6% Risk of Social Isolation²||Medically Underserved||13.5% Food Insecure¹||24.2% Age 65+¹|
|Jackson County||47.3% Risk of Social Isolation²||Severely Medically Underserved||1:7380 Primary Care Physicians to Population¹||14.8% Food Insecure¹||19.1% Age 65+¹|
|Lavaca County||71.0% Risk of Social Isolation²||7.8% Age 65+ and Living Alone²||Medically Underserved||13.9% Food Insecure¹||24.1% Age 65+¹|
|Refugio County||71.3% Risk of Social Isolation²||Severely Medically Underserved||1:6948 Primary Care Physicians to Population¹||15.6% Food Insecure¹||22.8% Age 65+¹|
|Victoria County||36.3% Risk of Social Isolation²||13.5% Diabetes Prevalence¹||14.4% Food Insecure¹||16.9% Age 65+¹|
Our Service Area
21.81% Age 65+¹
62.96% Social Isolation Risk²
14.91% Food Insecure¹
10.53% Limited Access to Healthy Foods¹
Texans in our newly expanded service area face multiple public health crises; risk of social isolation here is more than four times that of the state of Texas. While we are comparable to statewide numbers on food insecurity, our lack of access to healthy food is dire. Lack of necessary nutrition leaves bodies frail and worsens our overall health outcomes. The toll of isolation on mental health is something we all experienced during the pandemic. Hungry and lonely, many seniors in our communities face an uphill battle to age in place.
The Numbers in Real Life
All of these problems are made worse by disabilities common to our later years.
Homebound individuals can’t just go out to see friends. They may not be able to navigate a grocery store. Specialized care may not be available locally, especially to those in more rural areas.
Caregivers can help, but many caregivers face burnout as the balance of life, work, and care becomes unmanagable.
About Meals on Wheels South Texas
Meals on Wheels South Texas has been serving meals from our Murray Street location since 1979.
We are a home-delivered meal service at heart but much more than a meal in practice. Our organization serves as a point of social connection; we serve lunch and facilitate activities at our Connection Café; we provide services like pet assistance,library materials delivery, and local transportation; and we partner with local and national organizations to reach ever more seniors with ever more services.
About AmeriCorps Seniors
Our Senior Support Services Program is an AmeriCorps Seniors Demonstration project, meaning it is not tied to existing projects. It does, however, allow the organization flexibility to innovate and design creative programming to address community needs.
AmeriCorps Seniors rewards grants to communities and organizations focused on engaging older adults, ages 55 and over, in national service and volunteering. AmeriCorps Seniors engages nearly 200,000 older Americans in service at approximately 30,000 locations across the United States and territories through its Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion, RSVP, and Senior Demonstration programs. The Senior Demonstration Program (SDP) allows AmeriCorps and its grantees to test new ideas and pilot enhancements to the standard programs. AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers stay healthy and active through service, improving their own lives as they improve the lives of others.