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Meals on Wheels...how would you feel?


Meals on Wheels reason for use  

64 members have voted

  1. 1. MoW used by those who don't really need it...

    • Doesn't bother me.
      16
    • Bothers me a lot.
      39
    • Other
      9


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A person gets signed up for MoW because she convinces home health that she is not capable of cooking. But to someone else it is confessed that the person just hates cooking. Said person also very much enjoys being waited on and spoiled. MoW services are stretched to the max in the area both with lack of volunteers and greatly increased costs thanks to COVID restrictions/rules. Would it bother you to know that someone who is perfectly capable of moving and prepping meals is using a program such as MoW? Person also had MoW bring bag into her house (because she said she couldn't...bull) and put it in her fridge next to packages of her t-bone steak, salmon and sea scallops which she intended to (and did) prep for her dinner that night. So much for hating to cook...

Having delivered for MoW in college and seen first-hand the living and physical conditions of the recipients, I'm definitely leaning one way on this issue. But maybe my response is wrong and if so I welcome input.

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1 minute ago, Spryte said:

Does this person live alone?

Alone in her own home, yes. But she has someone who grocery shops for her and tracks down her very specialized, organic, expensive food requests each week. Her fridge and pantry are impressively stocked and she has no problem whatsoever making very nice meals for herself, she just likes people serving her. And she sees this as another way to not spend money...because sea scallops, steak and wild salmon are so very cheap... 

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I picked other because it bothers me, but not a lot. I helped my mom deliver MoW when I was a teen and I got the impression several of the recipients were likely personality types who were in it to be waited on rather than because they had a genuine barrier to preparing their own meals. I remember a couple of fussy old ladies who insisted it not only brought in for them, but it had to be placed in a specific table top or counter, and if you came in and put it down on the surface closest to the door because you had a bunch of deliveries and wanted to be out the door ASAP, they got pissy about it.

I don't know how MoW can deal filter those types out in a practical way.

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On a personal level, if I knew this person it would probably irritate me.    

BUT, it's my understanding that MOW also exists to sort of keep on eye on people that live alone.    I volunteer at a food charity, and I've just decided to take the attitude that the majority of people really need the food and to just not worry about the minority that don't and are possibly taking advantage.  If that helps you any. 

Edited by Zebra
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I understand why this bothers you, and if the facts are accurate it might bother me too - but you don't know if the facts are accurate, do you?

For example, is it possible that she's lying to this other person when she says she doesn't need Meals on Wheels but only doesn't like to cook? Some people are weirdly defensive around aging-related disabilities. For example, my mother has spent the past several years telling everybody that she only uses a cane to get a seat on the bus. This is a bit of a creative interpretation of the truth, and I don't think anybody believes her at this point, but it makes her happy to keep saying it.

She had the steak and salmon in her fridge. Do you know for certain that she's the one who cooked it? And if she is, do you know for sure that she can cook herself three meals a day, every day? Is it possible that she really can only manage to cook a few times a week, and needs this program to stay fed for every meal?

She has home health, as you say, convinced that she needs this program. Do you think it's possible that they know something you don't?

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14 minutes ago, Zebra said:

On a personal level, if I knew this person it would probably irritate me.    

BUT, it's my understanding that MOW also exists to sort of keep on eye on people that live alone.    I volunteer at a food charity, and I've just decided to take the attitude that the majority of people really need the food and to just not worry about the minority that don't and are possibly taking advantage.  If that helps you any. 

If it's anything like other forms of welfare, trying to weed out the (few) fakers is actually more expensive than just rolling with it, and you'll remove more honest people than fakers anyway.

Edited by Tanaqui
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4 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

I understand why this bothers you, and if the facts are accurate it might bother me too - but you don't know if the facts are accurate, do you?

For example, is it possible that she's lying to this other person when she says she doesn't need Meals on Wheels but only doesn't like to cook? Some people are weirdly defensive around aging-related disabilities. For example, my mother has spent the past several years telling everybody that she only uses a cane to get a seat on the bus. This is a bit of a creative interpretation of the truth, and I don't think anybody believes her at this point, but it makes her happy to keep saying it.

She had the steak and salmon in her fridge. Do you know for certain that she's the one who cooked it? And if she is, do you know for sure that she can cook herself three meals a day, every day? Is it possible that she really can only manage to cook a few times a week, and needs this program to stay fed for every meal?

She has home health, as you say, convinced that she needs this program. Do you think it's possible that they know something you don't?

Yes, I know she cooked it. I've seen her cooking and she's told one of my siblings as she's talking on the phone what she's making for a meal. She is 100% capable of cooking. She said to my face that she's on MoW because she hates to cook, this right after home health met with us and I listened as the gal expressed concern over my mom's "invalid" status. The door had barely closed before my mom set the record straight with me about her reason for being on MoW.

 

 

10 minutes ago, SereneHome said:

Do  you pay for it or it's free to the recipient?

No charge to the recipient.

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1 minute ago, BakersDozen said:

Yes, I know she cooked it. I've seen her cooking and she's told one of my siblings as she's talking on the phone what she's making for a meal. She is 100% capable of cooking. She said to my face that she's on MoW because she hates to cook, this right after home health met with us and I listened as the gal expressed concern over my mom's "invalid" status. The door had barely closed before my mom set the record straight with me about her reason for being on MoW.

 

 

No charge to the recipient.

Well, if she can afford her own food, then yes, I would be furious. 

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32 minutes ago, Zebra said:

On a personal level, if I knew this person it would probably irritate me.    

BUT, it's my understanding that MOW also exists to sort of keep on eye on people that live alone.    I volunteer at a food charity, and I've just decided to take the attitude that the majority of people really need the food and to just not worry about the minority that don't and are possibly taking advantage.  If that helps you any. 

My son and I delivered for MOW for several years, although not during a pandemic, and this was also my understanding that it went beyond just getting food. Our clients lived in a wide variety of situations and to be honest, I never actually questioned why anyone was getting it. I just assumed they met the criteria (I didn’t then and still don’t know what the criteria are) and wanted the service. And recipients were asked to pay if they were able to, so it wasn’t free for everyone. But that probably varies by locale.

Edited by Frances
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25 minutes ago, BakersDozen said:

Yes, I know she cooked it. I've seen her cooking and she's told one of my siblings as she's talking on the phone what she's making for a meal. She is 100% capable of cooking. She said to my face that she's on MoW because she hates to cook, this right after home health met with us and I listened as the gal expressed concern over my mom's "invalid" status. The door had barely closed before my mom set the record straight with me about her reason for being on MoW.
 

 

Oh, I see. She's your mother and not a random person. I was not clear on that, and that definitely changes my view of the situation here. I think it's probable that you have a good idea of when your mother is and is not being honest with you about her health, especially as you are in close contact with her.

However, while I understand that you're angry with her - and for good reason, given these facts stated! - I don't know that it doesn't do more harm than good to make any sort of formal complaint. Not for your mother, maybe, but perhaps for other people who might suffer if the people setting the funding get the idea that cheating is rampant instead of one or two bad actors.

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2 minutes ago, Hannah said:

If your'e using charity you don't need it may be taking from someone else who is truly in trouble and does need it.  That angers me.

 

In general I agree with this. But I don’t think the MOW program is just about providing food for people who would otherwise go hungry. Now if funds and drivers are limited due to the pandemic, some people might need to re-evaluate whether there are others who need the service more than they do. But at least here, they’ve had more than enough new volunteers and donations to meet the  increased need.

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I can’t help but think she must have some kind of need, even if it’s to have a visitor or something. We deliver MOW and there’s no way if steak, salmon, organic food was available that folks would choose what we bring. Ours is absolutely school cafeteria quality, which is fine, but if she can afford steak and salmon...

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I voted "doesn't bother me". 

I guess in my mind if she qualifies for home health care, then she should also qualify for Meals on Wheels.

And whether she likes to cook or not is kind of irrelevant to the service.

I'm also thinking about my own future.

I have RA.  I imagine that by the time I am a senior it will be worse than it is now.

As things are now, I can cook.  But, it is at the expense of doing other things.  

I can imagine as a senior (if I end up alone) that I would be willing to exert energy to make my favorite meals, but only once in a while.  If left to my own devices, even now, I sometimes choose to skip meals because I'm too tired to put in the effort.  If I lived alone I would be tempted to only eat once a day.  Cooking hurts.  I can do it, but sometimes it's hard.  It also takes a lot of energy.  

 

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7 minutes ago, Junie said:

 

I guess in my mind if she qualifies for home health care, then she should also qualify for Meals on Wheels.

 

 

That's my thinking too.    So maybe she doesn't need the food.   But could she use someone checking in on her every day?   Because then she's not taking advantage of the program.    

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8 minutes ago, OKBud said:

It is bad to take advantage of people's good will. If one takes advantage of other people's good will, one can can reasonably expect people to get mad about it, because it is wrong.

I may or may not be mad about it if I come face to face with someone doing that at any given time, depending on my read of the exact situation, but my feelings about it do not, to my mind, change the fundamental wrong being done. 

 

I agree with this.    It's just hard to discern sometimes if someone is actually taking advantage or not.    The OP is obviously more intimately involved with the person and a better judge of the situation though.

   

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I suspect it is like toddlers.  They can do things sometimes but not others, and if they hold it together to try to control themselves too much, they exhaust all their reserves.  

I’m guessing this won’t last long as she will hate the food.  But she might really need it to free her up from having to cook and clean up, if that is taking all her reserves pretty often.  In that case I guess I would favor it.  But I bet she will end up throwing most of the food away and quitting.

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I used to deliver for MOW. It's not just about the food but about the human connection. I would have zero problems having her on my route. The bigger problem is convincing seniors who could use it to accept meals on wheels rather than discouraging someone. There's a screening process so it's none of my business to judge someone who has been accepted into the program. They have access to more info than me and there's often more to it than what the person says or you may know. 

There have been people of wide ranges of ability on my routes. Some seem perfectly healthy but they were all happy to see us. I'd much rather have someone accept help early than wait.

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2 hours ago, BakersDozen said:

Alone in her own home, yes. But she has someone who grocery shops for her and tracks down her very specialized, organic, expensive food requests each week. Her fridge and pantry are impressively stocked and she has no problem whatsoever making very nice meals for herself, she just likes people serving her. And she sees this as another way to not spend money...because sea scallops, steak and wild salmon are so very cheap... 

Ok now it REALLY bothers me. 
 

I delivered MoW in near-rural Mississippi. Those folks needed it. Miss Organic Steak & Shrimp? I think not. 

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3 hours ago, BakersDozen said:

A person gets signed up for MoW because she convinces home health that she is not capable of cooking. But to someone else it is confessed that the person just hates cooking.  

I think home health would tend to have a pretty good idea of her capabilities. Like another poster said, many older people don't like to admit they truly need help with something. 

2 hours ago, BakersDozen said:

Yes, I know she cooked it. I've seen her cooking and she's told one of my siblings as she's talking on the phone what she's making for a meal. She is 100% capable of cooking. She said to my face that she's on MoW because she hates to cook, this right after home health met with us and I listened as the gal expressed concern over my mom's "invalid" status. The door had barely closed before my mom set the record straight with me about her reason for being on MoW.

Being capable of cooking a meal doesn't equate to being capable of cooking every day or even every couple of days. If home health is expressing concern over her invalid status, I have no problem believing that she could use help with meals (even if your mom is exaggerating some things). If home health feels the need to meet with you, again that would make me think she does need help with things. And, if you had just heard home health talking about her as an invalid, it makes sense to me that she would "set the record straight" and assure you that she's fine, absolutely fine, and doesn't really need help. 

 

1 hour ago, Annie G said:

I can’t help but think she must have some kind of need, even if it’s to have a visitor or something. We deliver MOW and there’s no way if steak, salmon, organic food was available that folks would choose what we bring. Ours is absolutely school cafeteria quality, which is fine, but if she can afford steak and salmon...

One of Meals on Wheels slogans is "Delivering So Much More Than a Meal" and the three purposes are given equal weight: nutritious meal, friendly visit, safety check. And yeah, it is low-cost cafeteria food. If the person in question is truly gaming the system for no reason other than to not cook, I'm sure they will drop out before long. 

1 hour ago, Junie said:

 

I guess in my mind if she qualifies for home health care, then she should also qualify for Meals on Wheels.

 

I can imagine as a senior (if I end up alone) that I would be willing to exert energy to make my favorite meals, but only once in a while. 

 

Right. 

Obviously we don't know all the background, OP, but I would just do my best to leave it up to home health and Meals on Wheels to decide if she qualifies. They have a screening process, and it's harder to qualify for home delivery than it is for community meals. If she's willing to eat it when she could be cooking steak or getting something yummy delivered, I would try to assume that it's filling a need for her. 

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Am I remembering correctly that the OP reported her mom for taking advantage of her husband and then his kid’s after his death?  So this is a pattern of NPD type behavior. 
 

If the person truly doesn’t meet the qualifications for MOW then you can report their deceit to home health or you can ignore it. I don’t think that reasoning with the elderly mother is going to accomplish anything. 
 

(My apologies if I am confusing the OP with someone else). 

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2 hours ago, Frances said:

In general I agree with this. But I don’t think the MOW program is just about providing food for people who would otherwise go hungry. 

 

1 hour ago, Æthelthryth the Stormy said:

 

As Frances mentions, it probably varies by locale, but here they do pay a small amount.

 

I didn't vote because I don't really have an opinion. I just wanted to say that a long time ago my grandmother got MoW. She was very well set financially, but she had cancer. Eventually she moved in with my parents, but at the time she wasn't yet bad enough that she needed to do that. But she wasn't well enough to do much cooking, either. The nearest family was 45 minutes away, so it wasn't very convenient for someone to pop in every day. MoW really helped fill a little gap for her, and allowed her to keep her independence for a little longer than she might otherwise have been able to. As well as I recall she paid for the meals. It's not always about financial need.

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20 minutes ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Am I remembering correctly that the OP reported her mom for taking advantage of her husband and then his kid’s after his death?  So this is a pattern of NPD type behavior. 
 

If the person truly doesn’t meet the qualifications for MOW then you can report their deceit to home health or you can ignore it. I don’t think that reasoning with the elderly mother is going to accomplish anything. 
 

(My apologies if I am confusing the OP with someone else). 

I don't think you are confusing them.  

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Yes, definitely bothers me, but on the scale of things that I have to be angry about, at this point it feels like relatively small potatoes.  I mean, it's clearly wrong, and I'd probably report it if there is a way to do so, but I'd rather a few people who don't need Meals on Wheels get it than it be unavailable for someone who DOES need it.  

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I can’t help but think she must have some kind of need, even if it’s to have a visitor or something.

The volunteers are not allowed to enter homes (why they did so for her is beyond me) and absolutely no staying to visit.

 

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I guess in my mind if she qualifies for home health care, then she should also qualify for Meals on Wheels.

Her doctors, all 3 of them, agreed that home health care was not something she needed and took her off. She played those gals big time...she's very, very good. In other words, she had her physicians and myself all working with her on being independent and home health was working 100% against that, and my mom had no issue with home health "babying" her. I sat there and heard my mom talk in an almost babyish voice, "unable" to lift her glass, and as soon as home health left my mom was normal again. I'm so glad her doctors booted them out - they were doing their job but only based on what my mom was showing them. She had them convinced she couldn't walk from her chair to the kitchen without help but then browsed through Dollar Store for over an hour by herself. See what is/was going on?

MoW volunteers are not supposed to go into anyone's homes right now or even come in contact unless absolutely necessary. The 5 meals are delivered once/week to her door so the social aspect/factor is not in play. My mom will take anything and everything she can get for no cost including food. And that's what is really, really getting to me. But as I've not been involved with MoW since college and am basing my reaction on those memories I needed to hear from those who might be familiar with the program today to see if my response is valid or not.

One thing that gets to me is that one of my dds works as a CNA in a nursing home and she says that one thing she is told by the residents is how much they wish they could just make their own meal - have that freedom/independence. So having someone who is amply provided for and can take care of herself makes it difficult to watch her utilizing services I associate with those in the most dire need whether it be from a nutritional standpoint or being checked on (which my mom also has...trust me, almost every day).
 

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Am I remembering correctly that the OP reported her mom for taking advantage of her husband and then his kid’s after his death?  So this is a pattern of NPD type behavior. 


Yes, that's my mom. I am trying as much as possible to not lump all of her behaviors/choices into one way of thinking/reacting on my part based on this situation with her husband. Hard to do when those behaviors/choices continue the pattern...

I so appreciate the insights, ladies. Again, this is all new territory for me. I can handle toddlers and (sometimes) teens. But my mom...whew...she leaves me baffled. It doesn't help that I/we do her grocery shopping. I buy 10 items for her and it costs within a few dollars of my cart full of food. Which wouldn't bother me if she wasn't utilizing a program I've always believed to be for the financially needy.

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13 minutes ago, Terabith said:

I mean, it's clearly wrong, and I'd probably report it if there is a way to do so 

What would you even report, though? They have a screening process. If there are financial requirements, whatever they had her submit satisfied them. If there are home delivery requirements, whatever she and home health said satisfied them. Calling to say that you're positive your mom really can cook for herself and you know she has salmon in the freezer is not going to have any effect, other than making you the topic for that afternoon's conversation in the Meals on Wheels office, lol. 

OP, I read the update you posted just now. I get that it's very frustrating and that you think she is cheating, but you have to keep in mind that there's absolutely nothing you can do to control her behavior. Even more so, you have to keep hard boundaries if she's really that bad. Do what you feel is your duty as far as caring for her, don't get involved or invested in the way she lives her life. It's not going to change anything except the stress level in your life. 

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1 minute ago, katilac said:

What would you even report, though? They have a screening process. If there are financial requirements, whatever they had her submit satisfied them. If there are home delivery requirements, whatever she and home health said satisfied them. Calling to say that you're positive your mom really can cook for herself and you know she has salmon in the freezer is not going to have any effect, other than making you the topic for that afternoon's conversation in the Meals on Wheels office, lol. 

OP, I read the update you posted just now. I get that it's very frustrating and that you think she is cheating, but you have to keep in mind that there's absolutely nothing you can do to control her behavior. Even more so, you have to keep hard boundaries if she's really that bad. Do what you feel is your duty as far as caring for her, don't get involved or invested in the way she lives her life. It's not going to change anything except the stress level in your life. 

Yeah, I don't know the details.  If there's no one to report to, then I would assume that she's met whatever requirements are necessary.  If things with Meals on Wheels were stretched to the point that I thought some deserving folks were being turned away and I knew who to talk to, I might say, "You know, she had no problem cooking beforehand."  But, I wouldn't stress too much about it.  It's immoral, but <shrug>.  My rage can only be extended in so many directions at any given time.

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My rage can only be extended in so many directions at any given time.

I love this. My new mantra...

The MoW program here is very stretched and each week there are more pleas for help and monetary contributions in light of what COVID has done (huge retirement/elderly community). I know people who cannot leave their homes...cannot leave their BEDS. They have no family to shop for them. I don't know...I've never been one to utilize a program unless it was such an extreme situation and then only temporarily, never for my own comfort or convenience.

 

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Do what you feel is your duty as far as caring for her, don't get involved or invested in the way she lives her life. It's not going to change anything except the stress level in your life. 

It's ironic because grocery shopping was one way to do my duty but this MoW thing is directly related. It's like one of the areas we could provide for my mom is now affected just like everything else with her. Not sure if that makes any sense... It's hard to grocery shop for specialty items (I didn't even know some of these things existed!) now. We didn't begrudge this service we were providing before...a wee bit more difficult to feel as obliging now.

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I voted other. There are a lot of people in the world who are users in all kinds of ways. It just is. 

I do think if it were my mother doing the same thing, I would be hopping mad, but I wouldn't necessarily know what to do about it. Your mom has a mental illness, and you have to have a life. It's okay to let it roll if you can. 

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1 hour ago, BakersDozen said:

It's hard to grocery shop for specialty items (I didn't even know some of these things existed!) now. We didn't begrudge this service we were providing before...a wee bit more difficult to feel as obliging now.

And that's fine, and you shouldn't feel guilty at all for not putting in any great effort shopping for specialty items. "The two grocery stores I am able to get to don't carry that, sorry. Let me know if there's a suitable substitute." 

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I can't get too uptight about it.  There are way more important things right now.  I would make it clear you disapprove and then use it as an excuse to be less involved with her. Otherwise you will make yourself miserable while not making any difference to her behaviour.

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Could she be doing it more for the social interaction?  Even if it's just a few minutes talking to the person bringing stuff?

The person bringing the food just leaves it by the front door in a bag. No interaction. Honestly, I'd say my mom likes to be served and doesn't like to pay for anything she doesn't have to.

 

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Otherwise you will make yourself miserable while not making any difference to her behaviour.

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Your mom has a mental illness, and you have to have a life.

Adding these to my "Handling My Mom" mantras.

Thanks for helping me think through this, gals.

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I'd suspect the person is mentally ill and lonely and try to ignore it.  In the scheme of things this isn't something I would let upset me, even if I question how ethical it is.

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7 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Stormy said:

I voted doesn't bother me. As a person who actual volunteers with my kids and delivers MoW for our local churches, I do not think it is my place to judge in any way, shape, or form, who is getting the service.

I read this post, and I was like, wow, this is so well said, who is this poster?

LOL. Apparently I am easily confused by new avatars. 🙂 

Are you on vacay???

BakersDozen: If it was someone I knew well I would be irritated, but it is not worth your time or energy to worry about it. image.png.5ea1cf3f6b82688b06029efb333c57b8.png

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I am far more concerned about what people are not getting than what they are getting. Our delivery and support systems are broken. If the people who needs MOW the least were to no longer receive the support, that does not mean the people that need it more will receive it. When people are not getting one service that they really need, sometimes taking advantage of another service that they need less helps to relieve the absence of the more needed service.

Our system is broken. Our system is broken. Our system is broken. The people on the system are not the ones that broke it. The people on the system are not the ones that make the system so expensive to run. 

In my high-rise in a Covid-hotspot city, MOH was given extra funding to reach out to more people and to convince them that it was not wrong to take the food. It was considered easier to just drop off meals than attend to so many other issues. Like the National Guard pepper spraying residents coming out of the subway from food shopping.

Seafood and beef contain critical nutrition that older people need. The idea that poor and elderly people only need oats and beans just leads to more illness and poverty. I am glad that she is well enough to cook and eat beef and seafood a couple times a week! A delivery of 5 meals, once a week, is not a big deal! If five meals that she does not need to cook and purchase frees her up for some beef and seafood, that is awesome!

What does "can do it" mean? Sometimes "can" is not the issue. No human should have to max themselves out in every way before taking any support and help whatsover.

God bless this woman. I am glad that she has everything that she does.

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I am not bothered by it: just because she “can” cook does not mean that she is able to do it consistently for every single meal and every single day. She might be able to pull off cooking breakfast and lunch but have zero energy or feel weak or depressed to cook dinner. This is why it is best to let it be. I am a lot younger than her, with a young child and love to cook/eat and I drive a lot to grocery stores but I feel too tired to cook all the time. As a PP said, if no one is at home, I would rather skip a meal! Maybe she has narcissistic tendencies, but she also could be more frail than you might imagine or have mental illness.

This should give you a reprieve from shopping for her and just get her things from your usual grocery store and refuse to go on special trips for her food.

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Maybe you can look at it this way: As your mom ages and needs more help, it's actually a good idea for her to have services provided by people other than you or other family members. Think about having her linked to outside help and social services as a positive thing, for her and, by extension, for you.

I know it seems like she is bilking the system, and perhaps she is in some ways. But if she qualified, she qualified, and it's not up to you whether she qualified or not.

I'm looking at this from the perspective of having a child who receives county funding from our developmental board of disabilities. Does our family need this financial help? No. So some people might think that we are accepting the help when it's not really needed.  But does it serve my child well to have him connected with services that can help him later, as he moves into adulthood? Yes, because we want him to be as independent as possible and to have a team of people, other than us, who can support him along the way. Sometimes it's about more than the finances.

Your mom is not a child moving into adulthood,like our situation, but she is an older adult moving toward her senior years, when she will need more help. Maybe you can switch your thinking and be glad that she has some help set up that means she can depend less on you.

Personally, I do also understand why you would be mad about this and think it is unfair. But if you can get past those emotions, maybe you can see the positives.

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It would bother me... the same as when we hand out toys at Christmas to needy families and there are soooo many who drive up in Cadillac SUVs, demanding this-or-that kind of toy for their offspring, and when you bring it out to them, they casually toss it back to offspring and tell them to open it now while looking right at you as if to say "We don't need this handout," (instead of waiting for Christmas... so it's obviously not "special" to the parent).

However, I just smile and focus my mental energy on the kids who we are helping and on those moms and dads who pull up with that "look" in their eye that just breaks my heart. And I focus on the kids whose parents were driving that Caddy SUV because I know that, for some of them, that present WILL be the only present they receive from a narcissistic parent that Christmas and that makes me even more sad. 
 

To weed out the abusers of MoW would inevitably mistakenly weed out people who are isolated, lonely, and desperate to see a friendly face on a regular basis. 
 

If it were my mother abusing the system, I would think maybe she too was lonely and secretly enjoys the visit? Maybe? 😕 Or maybe she needs more help than she wants to admit to her own family?

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I think it is up to the agency to screen the people that it works with. it sounds like this particular service either doesn’t screen or doesn’t care who uses the service.

Where I live, a meal service is provided by the local Senior Citizen Center. Seniors qualify for services based on financial and physical need, and a home visit is required to set up services. Anyone who meets the age criteria can come to the center and eat. There is a small charge for those who are not low income. ($2.50 per meal). During the pandemic, I think the meals are grab and go like at the schools. Meals are delivered only to those who are physically unable to come to the center, and the center director determines that based on a set of criteria. 

In the OP situation, I would lose respect for the recipient who lied to get the service, and I would choose to support other organizations (such as a food bank) who have a better process of vetting clients, but I would spend much time worrying about it otherwise.

I have a similar story about a family member who got a “wish trip” for her child with physical disabilities (not life threatening in any way and relatively minor). The family already takes their kids on month long vacations to resort type locations each summer (pre-pandemic), so this is not even a case of medical expenses taking all of the family resources. I personally do not think this was an appropriate family for the organization to spend its money on, but I am not part of that organization, and I do not donate money to that organization. I would choose to support an alternate organization that provides such trips but with a different screening process. However, I did not, and will not, express my opinion to this family member.

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Individuals taking advantage of programs to assist/help/bridge the gap for those that need it bothers me greatly.  There is always a limit to the amount of help that can be provided because resourses are not infinite.  Unfortunately this is just a reality of every assistance program.  I try hard not to make assumptions based on just something I see because I'm always lacking the majority of the story, but sometimes I am told directly by the person how they are taking advantage of the program.

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20 hours ago, Frances said:

In general I agree with this. But I don’t think the MOW program is just about providing food for people who would otherwise go hungry. Now if funds and drivers are limited due to the pandemic, some people might need to re-evaluate whether there are others who need the service more than they do. But at least here, they’ve had more than enough new volunteers and donations to meet the  increased need.

Yeah, I have trouble getting all worked up about it but this particular mother is apparently doing a lot of financially shady stuff so I can understand the OP being upset by it because it is just one more thing to add to the pile.

My MIL gets MOW because her husband is a late stage Alzheimers patient....she can cook and she can afford food.  It would never occur to me to think she is cheating the system.

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I have no first-hand experience with Meals on Wheels, and I do not know how much the administration of the programs can vary from area to area, but my understanding of the local program it isn't simply about helping people who cannot afford food.  Another main purpose is to bring personal attention to individuals who are home-bound and may feel isolated.  It is to help those who can't physically shop (or provide some relief to those who shop for them), to make sure that there is a variety of food, to help if someone can physically cook but finds it physically or emotionally demanding when done daily, to help in cases where someone may forget to turn off an oven if they are cooking, to be a smiling face for someone who is feeling lonely, and to be on the watch for someone who doesn't answer the door because they are ill.  I would think that during COVID there are even more senior feeling isolated.  

I wouldn't focus on whether the individual has enough money for food (If they do, I might suggest that they make donations to Meals on Wheels or another charity with the money they are "saving").   There must be some need this person has (being less isolated, being less physically drained, or something else) that this program is meeting.  

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In our area, MOW charges a fee for anyone above a certain income.  And their stated purpose (here) is more than a meal but to check in on people.  At least a wave, daily.

My ILs used it, at one point, when in independent living.  They paid a fee.  They could afford food, but sometimes fixing three meals a day was taxing.  This sort of bridged a gap, for them. DH and I were grateful that someone put eyes on them daily, since we could not.

OP, I hear you that this feels wrong.  But it sounds like there’s a bit of a possibly toxic relationship there (if I don’t have you mixed up), and I like the idea of reframing this to think of the person getting set up with community help, for when she needs it more.  

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