Impact

THE REALITY

With 12,000 individuals turning 60 each day, the United States senior population is rapidly increasing.  By 2030,1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older which is more than 70 million Americans, twice the number in 2000.

American are living longer, life expectancy is around 79 years old which means they will have more time to battle issues like, hunger, isolation, illness, and dependence.

ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGE 

Since 1973, Aging Ahead has been supporting individuals to remain healthier and independent by offering quality programs, services, and resources. We will be able to continue to support individuals through the journey of aging because of our dedicated partners, sponsors, donors, advocates, volunteers and staff.

OUR IMPACT
  • To help older adults maintain better health through good nutrition, Aging Ahead served 155,503 meals to 2,859 persons in 2017 at our community locations in St. Louis, St. Charles, Franklin and Jefferson counties.
  • Aging Ahead delivers over 2,600 meals daily to home bound adults in 110 different zip codes.
  • Our Community Option Specialists assist approximately 1,000 individuals each month with aging related questions about services, caregiving and, assistance.
  • The Choice program has recently expanded into Franklin County through a partnership with Frick’s Super Market allowing an additional 261 adults to order lunch from the deli three days a week.
  • As a result of our community outreach program, we reached 15,520 people through aging presentations and information tables in 2017.
  • Volunteers donated 117,901 hours of service through such programs as home-delivered meals, meetings, exercise instruction and various community location activities in 2017.
  • The annual Christmas Day Meal Project brings a hot meal, gifts and good cheer to more than 350 adults who are home alone on the holiday.
IMPACTING THE COMMUNITY

Aging Ahead understands storytelling is a vital component of our mission in supporting individuals through the journey of aging. Stories can help educate and inspire all of us to think and act differently. Stories connect us in a unique way by having the ability to touch our hearts in a manner that encourages engagement.   

Aging Ahead is excited to introduce our new story sharing platform, The Heart of the Matter. Each month, we will share a story with our boards, staff, volunteers and supporters to help illustrate the impact of our programs and services in the communities we serve. 

Retired life has not been a walk in the park for Nicholas P. In spite of this, he continues to push on with the help of Aging Ahead.

Nicholas P, a diabetic, experienced major health issues a few years ago, resulting in the inability to work. Without the means of reliable transportation, Mr. P found himself home-bound at the age of 65. He was referred to Aging Ahead and began receiving Meals on Wheels and enrolled in our Commodity Box program, a program in which he receives a monthly supply of non-perishable food. Throughout this time, Mr. P continued to suffer financially with cost of living, medical bills, and necessary home repairs he was unable to complete.

During a routine home assessment, Kathy Craig, an Aging Ahead Community Options Specialist, listened to Mr. P’s story, and informed him about qualifying programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). 

Kathy also referred Nicholas to other resources for free home repairs. Mr. P plans to use Aging Ahead’s short-term care to assist him around his home after an upcoming foot surgery.  As Kathy left, Mr. P exclaimed, “you can’t know how much I appreciate what you all do. The word that’s missing so much in the world right now is compassion, and you all have so much of it. Thank you.”

Support Highlights: Meals on Wheels, Community Options Services, SNAP, LIHEAP, and Short-Term Care.

Life has been a little easier for Evelyn since she started receiving meal deliveries last year from Aging Ahead.

Evelyn is legally blind and lives alone. With her disability, she is unable to drive and has a difficult time preparing food for herself. Last year, a neighbor suggested that Evelyn call Aging Ahead in order to receive Meals on Wheels, and she hasn’t looked back since. “Aging Ahead is the best thing that’s happened to me. Without the meals, it would be so much harder to get good nutrition.”

Evelyn will celebrate her 90th birthday in December, and more than anything, she wishes to remain living at home for as long as possible. After being asked how Aging Ahead has impacted her life, Evelyn said, “I’m scared to death of losing my independence here. Because of the meals, I’m able to care for myself better.” Living independently is something that Evelyn is passionate about.  

As someone who supported and raised two children alone, Evelyn knows hard work and struggle intimately, however, she says she’s living a lucky life, “I don’t have much, but I have love and I have hope.” She explained that love and hope have driven her in all of her years, and she’s grateful for life’s “little breaks.” She expressed that Aging Ahead provides one of those breaks in a massive way by reinforcing her independence.

Support Highlights: Meals on Wheels, Wellness Checks, and Annual Assessment.

After John suffered a stroke, he was admitted into a skilled nursing facility. His caregiver team did not believe he would thrive outside of the facility. Feeling overwhelmed and suffering from severe depression, John didn’t know where to turn to reclaim his life and finances as his own until a friend referred him to Aging Ahead as a trusted resource to help. Susan Richmeyer, an Aging Ahead Community Options Specialist, became John’s case manager. For almost two years, Susan and John worked closely together on getting John moved back into the community with a space of his own to call home.

John utilized the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program, which supports an individual’s transition from a skilled nursing facility back into the community. Throughout the process, John credited Susan for being his advocate. “Susan listened to me and came up with a plan on how to pull myself out of the facility. I was ready, but I needed guidance,” said John.

When asked what his life would be like if he had not been referred to Aging Ahead for support, John confidently exclaimed, “I would be living on the street. Susan and [Aging Ahead] saved me. I truly believe that. Now, I literally have a new lease on life!” With the support of Susan and Aging Ahead, John was able to move into an apartment, and in doing so, he has fully immersed himself into his community!

John identifies as a gay man, which he says has presented its own isolation challenges, but through everything, he has been able to persevere and create his own supportive community. John has become extremely involved within his parish, and volunteers his time as a lector, a choir member, and works their food pantry twice a week. John also dedicates his time to education by teaching weekly GED classes.

John’s hardships have yet to stop him from succeeding. “John is one of the bravest people I know, and he worked so hard to be where he is today. He is a very special person, and he deserves so much happiness in life,” Susan imparted when discussing John’s inspiring story.

Support Highlights: Money Follows the Person (Nursing Home Transition) and Options Consulting (including 12-Month Post-Transition Support).

Aging Ahead is committed to identifying and addressing the challenges facing many local older adults. We are thankful for community support, including many dedicated volunteers, through which we are able to implement programs and services designed to help ensure all have opportunities to age well.

Nearly 20 years ago, Anne learned of our Christmas meals program in which volunteers deliver meals to vulnerable adults on Christmas Day. She wanted to help by preparing gift bags to accompany meal deliveries. Because of their dedication and generosity, Anne and her family have granted hundreds of seniors the gift of community on Christmas Day! 

After her children and grandchildren where grown, Anne felt that their holiday money would be better spent helping those in need. She encouraged each family member to spend $50 on hygienic products, non-perishable food, and winter clothing for the gift bags, and she introduced their tradition of assembling the gift bags together, as a family. As the years went on, their operation has grown immensely and now includes her great-grandchildren, coworkers, and bridge team! Anne and her team are responsible for assembling over 250 gift bags each holiday season, totaling over 4,500 bags in 20 years!

Mary, an assisted living resident, describes the impact of the meal and gift bag she received on Christmas in a letter to Aging Ahead,  “It meant so much to me to have a family that didn’t even know me take the time to deliver a meal and gift to me. They were the only visitors and gift I received this Christmas, and it will always be so special to me.”

Aging Ahead would like to express a warm thank you to Anne and her rock-star team for their generosity and dedication in making this program successful.

Support Highlights: Christmas Meals Program Case Management, Individual Assessments, and Volunteer Support.

Not only is Jackie the primary caretaker for her 60-year-old disabled son, but she also has many ailments of her own, including a terminal lung condition. Through this, she remains positive, largely due to the help of Aging Ahead’s Meals on Wheels and caregiver assistance programs.

Jackie was introduced to Aging Ahead when her husband became ill and a neighbor suggested she sign up for Meals on Wheels. When her husband passed, she was diagnosed with a terminal condition while also becoming the primary caretaker of her disabled son, “I count my blessings every day. I’ve lived a full life but Aging Ahead has made such a difference to us.”

Jackie says that Aging Ahead has taken some pressure off her by making sure she and her son have enough to eat throughout the week. Jackie also receives weekly caregiver assistance which assists her, and her son remain independent in their home.

“I’ve really come to depend on the help. Going to the grocery store has become a painful challenge recently with my health failing. Shopping is one less thing I need to worry about during the week.”

Support Highlights: Meals on Wheels, Case Management, Family Caregiver Support Program, and Community Options & Services.

Ralph has held many volunteer roles over the last 20 years with Aging Ahead. Although the roles varied, Ralph’s underlying purpose never wavered: “Do what needs done to help others.” Whether that meant delivering meals to homebound older adults, advocating as a Silver Haired Legislator, serving on support and advisory committees or bringing a smile to someone who needed one, Aging Ahead could count on Ralph! His friendly, welcoming personality made him an easy person to go to for assistance. 

With his immediate family living out of town, Ralph struggled to find purpose after retirement, “I was at a place in my life where I needed connections and a purpose.” Ralph began delivering Meals on Wheels to homebound older adults. Ralph felt that by volunteering, he was impacting his community while gaining the benefits of forming long lasting social connections, by immersing himself within the Aging Ahead community. 

Ralph felt he could do even more and became a member of Silver Haired Legislature, advocating positive change for Missouri older adults. Once, Ralph infamously announced to a large crowd at a SHL conference that he was “a man of the people” – we couldn’t agree more.  

Thank you, Ralph and good luck in New York. We will miss you and are so lucky to have been aging ahead with you for so many years.

Support Highlights: Meals on Wheels Volunteer, Silver Haired Legislature, Aging Ahead Advisory Committee, and Location Support Committee.

Though we are all experiencing these uncertain times, one thing that remains certain is people wanting to help. In a time of isolation, connection is more important than ever, and members of our community have stepped up to continue supporting older adults.  

Gail has been volunteering and supporting the Aging Ahead Bridgeton location for almost 6 years. During her tenure, she has left her mark by joining the Support Committee and by making birthdays extra special by composing sweet poems using candy puns.  

While social distancing, Gail wanted to continue brightening the lives of our participants. She created silk flower arrangements and ‘planted’ them around the mailboxes of individuals receiving home-delivered meals. As the daughter of a florist, Gail strongly believes that, “flowers bring smiles to faces—even for just a moment. Every time they look outside, they will smile.”

Thanks to Gail, nearly 60 homes have been adorned with flower arrangements in the Bridgeton area!  Thank you, Gail, and to all our staff and volunteers that ensure older adults continue to smile and age well—even at a distance.  

Support Highlights: Volunteer Support, Support Committee, and Meals on Wheels.

Aging Ahead is lucky enough to work with incredibly dedicated volunteers. Glen has been volunteering with Aging Ahead at the House Springs location for about 4 years and delivers two Meals on Wheels routes per week to homebound older adults. Glen has even continued delivering meals this past year while undergoing dialysis treatment. His dedication to help and bring joy to others has never wavered. 

Delivering meals twice a week is not enough for Glen. Whether it’s ExerStart, CyberSeniors, wrapping holiday gifts for homebound seniors, stuffing backpacks for the Northwest Early Childhood students, joining the Support Committee as a Chairperson, Glen is always ready to help with a smile on his face, and has become an integral part of the House Springs location community.   

We thank Glen for his warm smile and unwavering generosity of time spent helping Aging Ahead support others through the journey of aging. We are so glad and privileged to be Aging Ahead with you, Glen!

Support Highlights: Volunteer Support, Location Support Committee, Meals on Wheels, CyberSeniors, and Christmas Meals Program.

Aging Ahead is lucky enough to employ devoted and essential staff that have shown enthusiasm to better adapt and serve older adults while navigating through a global pandemic. In the past several months, Aging Ahead staff has created various programs and taken various steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our participants. We reinstated the Telephone Reassurance Program, sent toilet paper to households that requested the need, and began delivering meals and commodity boxes in a way that allows zero physical contact. 

Staff conducted and recorded data through our Telephone Reassurance Program, making over 10,000 calls to quarantined and homebound households in an effort to assess needs and provide relief. Data was recorded by staff so Aging Ahead could better understand the changing needs of those we serve. Below are comments received through the Telephone Reassurance Program.

“It’s very comforting to know that you guys are there. You’re doing wonderful work.”

“Thank you so much for the toilet paper! My daughter can’t find it anywhere and I was out.”

“I look forward to my weekly call just to hear someone’s voice. Thank you.”

Aging Ahead has continued to prioritize the needs of older adults in our area, and our staff is essential in creating that success. We are so grateful to be Aging Ahead with all of you, together. 

Support Highlights: Telephone Reassurance Program, Meals on Wheels, Solving the Tissue Issue, and Community Options & Services.

Looking back five months, did anyone even know what Zoom was, or that it existed? Now, it’s everywhere…including Aging Ahead’s CHOICE Program. Just another way we are Aging Ahead with you! A large variety of topics are offered and sure to pique many interests like Balance Barre, the 2020 Census, writing classes, Medicare Bootcamp, chair yoga, and much more

Through stay-at-home recommendations, Donald, an avid learner and CHOICE enthusiast has stayed busy and kept his mind active by joining 2-3 CHOICE presentations each week! “The virtual meetings are a true godsend! Contact with people is so critical to staying healthy and well!” Donald, a high-risk older adult, expressed that sheltering in place does not have to mean isolation, “Without CHOICE, I would only have daily contact with my wife. Now, I feel like I am still a part of the community.” Donald says that virtual CHOICE provides “exciting, educational, and social opportunities that keep my brain stimulated.”

If you are interested in joining the Aging Ahead CHOICE program, please visit agingmissouri.org to sign up and register for classes that interest you.

Support Highlights: CHOICE Program, Healthy Living Programs, Socialization, and Education & Learning Programs.

Dorothy has been an active participant of the Union Senior Center for over five years. Before the pandemic, she looked forward to meeting her friends and sharing a meal, “I really counted on having my meal every day! But when the center closed due to COVID-19, I was worried about how I would safely get my food every day.”

Dorothy has decided use our curbside service and pick up her meals once a week from the Union Senior Center. She is glad to have this option so that she can get out of the house and take a nice drive to the center, “I’m so grateful I’m able to still receive my weekly meals. This way I can visit for a few minutes, and I don’t have to risk my health by going to the store.” 

Dorothy is a retired nurse who has lived through the polio crisis and used to manually pump lungs when there were power outages. She reflected on her past experiences, “My past training has taught me to take all of this in stride, taking one day at a time. Thank you for allowing me and so many others to stay safe and healthy.”

Support Highlights: COVID-19 Emergency Response, Senior Center, and Nutrition Support.

Ina sought the help of Aging Ahead in 2002 when she became the caretaker of her late husband, Hershel, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease. Hershel was a lifelong artist, and Ina would often bring him to the West County Senior Center for art classes. “It was wonderful taking him to those classes. The teacher was so nice and welcoming, and it made him feel good that his art was hung up with the rest of the class.”  

Around this time, Ina also sought the help of the Community Options & Services team. A Community Options Specialist came to Ina’s house to assess the living space, ultimately making it more comfortable for Hershel’s needs. “They provided the essential items Hershel and our house needed. I cannot describe how much this helped me!”

Years later in 2019, Ina joined and participated in the Y’s CHOICE program, receiving a prepared boxed lunch through Aging Ahead after her morning classes at the YMCA. “By the time I was finished with my morning routine, I was hungry and ready to eat. The chicken salad was always my favorite.” 

Later in 2019, Ina endured health ailments that rendered her unable to drive to the Y. Soon thereafter, Ina enrolled in Aging Ahead’s Meals on Wheels program. Ina began receiving meals right before the Pandemic hit and she continues to receive meals every week. “Oh my goodness, what can I say about it? Nothing bad! I’m so thankful I don’t have to worry about cooking or shopping, especially now with everything going on. It makes me feel safe. It’s just wonderful!”

Support Highlights: Community Options & Services, Family Caregiver Support Program, Senior Centers, Y’s CHOICE Program, Meals on Wheels, and COVID-19 Emergency Response.

Mrs. R reached out to Aging Ahead for caregiver assistance for her husband whose health was in rapid decline. She was connected to Sue, a Community Options & Services Specialist (COS). “I felt desperate and didn’t know where to turn for help.” 

Mrs. R’s husband is suffering from congestive heart failure and diabetes. Due to a complications from the diabetes, part of his heel was amputated, and he is no longer able to walk. For Mrs. R, help couldn’t have arrived more swiftly.

The couple’s home was assessed by COS to determine the necessary equipment needed for independent living. Sue worked with the couple and helped them receive Meal on Wheels, a chair lift, and a ramp for their home. The couple also now receives telephone reassurance calls during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I can’t even describe how grateful we are for the help Aging Ahead has provided us! Life is hard right now, but it could be much worse. I feel less anxious now that I know help is only a phone call away.”

Support Highlights: Community Options & Services, Case Management, Meals on Wheels, Home Assessments, Family Caregiver Support, Telephone Reassurance, and COVID-19 Emergency Response.

The year 2020 was a “ruff” year for everyone, but something that made the year a little easier for Joanne was choosing to enroll in Aging Ahead’s pilot program, Whiskers on Wheels! Aging Ahead partnered with local nonprofit, The Wet Nose Project, to provide older adults with pet food to help alleviate the cost burden of caring for a pet. 

Joanne, the proud fur mom of Clara and Mollie, says she finds so much joy in the companionship of her two rescue pups. Before enrolling in the Whiskers on Wheels program, Joanne found it sometimes difficult to afford dog food for Clara and Mollie, and that it noticeably stretched her budget. “This program,” Joanne said, “makes it easier to truly enjoy my time with Clara and Mollie. The cost is one less thing I have to worry about right now.” Joanne is currently undergoing cancer treatments, and said, “I feel so comforted by Clara and Mollie with me, and I really feel like their love is healing.” Joanne later said that she is very grateful for the Whiskers on Wheels program, and that it’s helped keep her spirits high. 

Support Highlights: Whiskers on Wheels, Meals on Wheels, Case Management, and Telephone Reassurance.

The past year has been anything but business-as-usual here at Aging Ahead, but luckily, we have an amazing staff that continually rises above and beyond challenges, creating inventive solutions to stay connected to those we serve.  

Angela has been a Resource Center Assistant (RCA) at the Affton center for the past four years, and throughout her time with the Agency, older adults who regularly attended the Affton center always raved that the activities and programs provided were engaging and thoughtfully planned. When the pandemic hit last March, centers shut down to the public, and many seniors felt they had lost their social connections. It was a devastating time for many. Aging Ahead staff adapted and took critical action. 

Angela discussed the plan to incorporate socially distant programming for her participants. “Within two months of shutting down, we realized we had to reach out to clients in a different way. We were calling clients weekly, but it wasn’t enough to keep their engagement. We decided to try virtual activities.” Throughout the year, Angela has helped many of her clients join the online world to discuss art and culture as a group by virtually visiting museums all over the world including, London, Paris, Seoul, Amsterdam, and St. Petersburg! For many, this has literally opened a new world of experiences to those who thought their traveling days were long gone, “I look forward to this every week. We get to go to places I would never have the chance to otherwise, and we get to do it together!”

Angela has even started her own art program, Watercolor Wednesdays, in which she paints a watercolor over Zoom, and attendees are entered in a raffle to win that week’s masterpiece! Those without a computer or internet access are able to join in over the phone so that all can participate. 

Many folks have expressed their gratitude for these adaptive and interactive programs:

  • “It’s so great to hear such a happy, strong voice. This is a breath of fresh air.”
  • “This is the only way I get to talk to people and visit. I’m immunocompromised and haven’t left my house in a year. I need this.”
  • “This helps me not go crazy in my apartment.”

We know from numerous studies that social isolation is as harmful to one’s health as smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. Angela stated that, “this year has been devastating for our clientele. We can’t provide hugs from their grandchildren but what we can do is make sure they know they aren’t alone.” Angela, and Aging Ahead staff like her, have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic so that those we serve continue to feel connected to their communities and to each other. 

Support Highlights: Resource Center Support, Education & Learning Programs, and Telephone Reassurance Program.

Tom was suffering severe headaches and migraines after falling victim to an assault incident resulting in brain contusions. His neurologist recommended he sign up for a Missouri medical marijuana card to help treat the headache pain. Tom, willing to try anything to help ease the pain, attempted to register for a medical marijuana card, but instead found himself experiencing another headache.

The process to apply for a medical card is exclusively online, meaning individuals without internet access, a computer, and computer knowledge are left in the dark. “I don’t have a computer. I only use a smartphone, and the website was very confusing,” Tom tried tirelessly to access the site, which is maintained by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, through his phone and was unable to complete the process on his own. He called Aging Ahead for help. Alex, a Community Options Specialist, assisted Tom throughout the process. “I really could not have done it without Alex’s help. She was so calm and helpful. I’m so grateful for the time she spent making sure everything was done correctly!” exclaimed Tom.

Paper forms for this process were eliminated entirely, directly impacting the senior, low-income, and persons with disabilities populations. These populations are less likely to have access to the internet, a computer, and a scanner. Even with access, individuals must have at least an intermediate understanding of technology to complete the process. Aging Ahead’s Silver Haired Legislature (SHL) has recently proposed a bill to create non-computer alternatives (phone, mail, etc.) for seniors in Missouri E-Government. SHL advocates that these measures would ease anxiety for many seniors, support their confidence to perform necessary tasks, and avoid oversights or mistakes that could require the labor of many persons (including some in government) to remedy.

If you are having trouble registering online for the COVID-19 vaccine, a doctor-recommended medical marijuana card, or voter registration information, Aging Ahead can help!

Support Highlights

  • Community Options and Services
  • Silver Haired Legislature

It is undeniable that Aging Ahead creates a ripple effect of support throughout its community. Living on the east coast, Lindsey and her husband Patrick felt helpless when their immobile mother and cognitively impaired sister and niece were suddenly without food assistance. A family member, living in the area, contracted COVID-19 and was unable to safely enter the house, leaving the vulnerable adults without a consistent way to get prepared meals and a daily wellness check. Lindsey called Aging Ahead for help. 

Beth, the House Springs Kitchen Manager, enrolled the family in our Meals on Wheels program, and communicated frequently to Lindsey about meal deliveries. Beth called Lindsey prior to each meal delivery so that Lindsey could Facetime with her niece, walking her through the steps of opening the door and preparing the meals for the rest of the family. 

Lindsey and Patrick were so grateful to Beth and Aging Ahead for their assistance, that they wanted to find a way give back and raise awareness. “We really don’t know what we would have done without Aging Ahead! We were so touched by the constant help and patience from Beth and the organization. She made a stressful situation as manageable as possible.” Patrick is a music producer, and they decided to create an online fundraiser featuring his music. All proceeds were donated to Aging Ahead’s Meals on Wheels program! “[Aging Ahead] helped save my family’s life when the situation was at its most dire. We wanted to return the favor in a big way.” Lindsey and Patrick’s online fundraiser raised $250 for the Aging Ahead Meals on Wheels program, providing 30 meals to vulnerable seniors in need. Donations to Aging Ahead help ensure that we continue to provide essential services to older adults in our area. If you would like to donate to Aging Ahead, please visit agingahead.org/donate/

Support Highlights·        

  • Meals on Wheels       
  • Wellness checks
SHARE YOUR STORY

Aging Ahead loves to share the results of our efforts to support those we serve on their journeys to remain independent!  Even more so, we love to learn about the impact our programs and services have had on your life or the life of a loved one.  Please click here to make our day by providing your story and don’t forget to keep an eye on our blog to learn more about our ongoing impact in your community.  Thank you!

“If not for the kindness and generosity of Aging Ahead and their volunteers, I would be hungry. Aging Ahead gives me the peace of mind, knowing I will have a nutritious, good, filling meals every day.”—James K.