A Pilot Program Aims To Keep Sheboygan Seniors In Their Homes

Apr 30, 2019

A lot of aging adults fight to stay in their homes. A new pilot program in Sheboygan would allow seniors to do just that. But, many are leaving the offer on the table.

Concordia University is working with Fresh Meals on Wheels in Sheboygan to pilot a new program for seniors living at home. Essentially, there are three home visits.

In the first visit, pharmacy professionals take a look at medications. Then, nursing, physical and occupational therapy professionals come in for the second visit. They’re looking at the layout of the home and making sure nothing is posing as a fall risk. The third and final visit is all about presenting recommendations.

READ: Having A Plan Helps Seniors Age At Home

One unique part of the program is that it involves university students. They’re accompanied by their professors but mostly it's the students who take the lead by asking questions and performing the assessments. 

Emily, a pharmacy student, says, "This program is probably the best. You learn about compassion. You get to work with others. It also helps strengthen my soft spoken skills."  

One thing Emily looks for is the amount of supplements a person is taking not for toxicology reasons. If a person is getting up every five minutes to take a supplement, she says they’re more likely to fall.

The pilot program rolled out last summer and since its inception it has faced some challenges. The biggest, is that not every senior who is offered the program participates. Amy Stader with the local nonprofit Meals on Wheels says a lot of seniors are skeptical.

"For us to come in and say, 'What can we do to help you? How can we provide a, b, and c, for you?' I think a lot of them are really hesitant," says Stader. 

But some people can get past that skepticism, like Joyce Olsen who was one of the very first participants.

"It was somewhat difficult you know to allow all these folks in and then find out they were professors. But I’ve been in college. I wasn’t intimidated," says Olsen.

She says it was her trust in the Meals on Wheels program that ultimately gave her the confidence to participate in the pilot. Ultimately, she’s glad she did.

"I had such good feedback," says Olsen.

Currently, the joint pilot program has had about 27 participants. A number that the program's leaders hope to expand.