Marti Olson is no stranger to the operations of a Meals on Wheels program. And with the Carson City Senior Citizens Center now having a waiting list for home meal deliveries, her job as senior services manager becomes more important than ever.
"My job is to evaluate - within the client's home - their overall functioning," said Olson, who began her job July 25.
"I will assess their needs and capabilities. The people most needy of the program are those who cannot cook for themselves and have no way of getting to the center for a meal."
Seniors who qualify for the program must be at least 60 years old, have medical or health issues that prevent them from cooking for themselves and have no way of getting to the Senior Center for meals.
"If they can drive, we encourage them to come in to the center for the social aspect, the activities. Becoming isolated from the outside world is very detrimental to them," Olson said.
Olson said the client's financial situation is not taken into consideration and clients are not put on the delivery list just to save money.
"It's physical limitations or health issues we consider - like a fractured hip. This would be one of the extreme physical limitations we would consider."
Olson is also a licensed social worker, which has great advantages for this position, she said.
"I have experience in recognizing at-risk indicators and may spot physical or mental abuse or see that the client is being financially taken advantage of," she said. "This (social evaluation) helps improve my intuitive skills.
"I will go in to their homes and review their environment as a whole and find they may need some other service and be able to refer them."
The 38-year-old mother of a teenage daughter, Linnea, is celebrating her one-year wedding anniversary with husband, Ken. She is from the Reno/Sparks area and lived in Northern California most of her adult life. She earned her bachelor's degree in social work from Humboldt State University.
"I love working with seniors. I prefer it, " she said. "I've learned they have a lot to offer. They've experienced more changes in society than any other generation. The war, the Depression. These people have a lot of wisdom."
Prior to the Carson City Senior Citizens Center, Olson worked at Washoe County Senior Services since October 1998 as the Meals on Wheels coordinator and was case manager for the Homemaker program called Temporary Assistance for Displaced Seniors.
Executive Director Janice McIntosh said the center is now delivering up to 190 meals a day and being paid for 149 meals, through food grants and federal funding. The average cost of delivering those meals is more than $6, which includes cost of food, container, preparation, fuel, insurance and wages.
"Ninety percent of our clients are age 75 or older," said McIntosh. "We are helping the frailest of the frail with this program. Our two main questions we're asking are, 'Are you just out of the hospital?' and 'Is there anyone there to take care of you?'
"We don't want to deny anybody, but we have to be sure they deserve it. If a husband calls up and says his wife can't cook any longer and he doesn't want to, can he get meals delivered, we'd have to say no. We're trying to be responsible. We can only serve the most critical at this time."
For more information on Meals on Wheels, call the Senior Center at 775-883-0703.