Gary Wright had a thriving career in advertising and marketing when a heart attack and subsequent life changes left him without paid health insurance. He soon found that mounting health and dental issues “took a backseat,” since he could not afford the proper care he needed. Gary had to end his career in 2006 due to continuing heart problems and ten years later he underwent a triple bypass, which made it difficult to care for himself.
Alarmingly, this is an all-too-familiar scenario for many older adults. In recognizing this public health crisis, the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation funds programs in its 15-state and Washington D.C. operating area to identify and address systemic causes of poor oral health among older adults, especially those living in poverty, people of color and those whose mobility issues keep them from receiving oral health care.
Through a Community Care Foundation grant to Meals on Wheels San Francisco, Gary and many other older adults are able to receive the assistance they need.
“By working with partners such as Meals on Wheels, the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation helps to provide additional support for our seniors in ways that have a direct impact,” said Kenzie Ferguson, vice president of Foundation and corporate social responsibility for Delta Dental of California. “We collaborate with Meals on Wheels to help improve the oral health of their clients, many of whom require special diets of softer foods due to mouth pain or tooth loss.”
Today, Gary is 70 years old. While his heart health makes it hard to exercise and walk his dog, Leo, he is grateful for the independence the assistance from the Community Care Foundation and Meals on Wheels San Francisco brings him.
“The most consistent thing I have is food through Meals on Wheels,” said Gary Wright. “That frees me from worry. It allows me to think about things I want to do, like walking Leo.”