ED GOLDMAN: Caring for Seniors

Sacramento Business Journal

“We’re excellent examples of all the medical advances that have been made since the 1920s,” Donna Yee is telling me in the joint conference room of the Asian Community Center, of which she’s CEO, and Meals On Wheels, which she also runs. “We stand on our parents’ shoulders. In their lifetimes, the possibility of treating once-fatal diseases as chronic conditions and of managing disabilities really came of age.”

But, she adds, “We’re still in a period where some people, many people, don’t have access to good medical care. We have this whole range of adults who are up and around — only 5 percent of the older population are in nursing homes — but we also have seniors who are sometimes younger but far less healthy because they lived in poverty or near-poverty all their lives.”

She gets quiet for a moment — then says, with a sad smile that indicates she knows it’s obvious but also true, “There is a significant bifurcation in our country between haves and have-nots.

Meals On Wheels serves 1,900 meals a day throughout Sacramento County. In yesterday’s column Yee mentioned that the program is serving “only about 2 percent of all the people in Sacramento County who are 60 or older and could be using our program.” She later pointed out that 2 percent is all that Meals On Wheels has the capacity, with current funding, to serve. She says she’d like to find an organization or individual to establish an endowment for the Meals On Wheels program so that it can expand.

Yee says that last year, the Area 4 Agency on Aging estimated that there were nearly 230,000 people of 60 years or more in Sacramento County — of whom 6 percent, or about 14,000, that are at or below the poverty line.

Yee’s grandparents were immigrants from a village in China. Born in New York City, she grew up — and discovered her calling, she says — in San Francisco. “My parents each had two jobs so I was on my own quite a bit,” she says. “I did a lot of ‘hanging’ in Chinatown, where I saw firsthand the conditions that many older people endured.”

If donors and angels step forward, it could be that the next generations of senior citizens will be standing on Yee’s slender but determined shoulders. You can get more information by visiting the Meals On Wheels website at mowsac.org or by phoning 916-444-9533.

This article was taken from http://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/blog/ed-goldman/2013/02/ed-goldman-caring-for-seniors.html?page=all