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By: Jarek Rutz, Delaware Live

A $675,000 grant from the Administration for Community Living will go toward educating older homebound Delawareans who struggle to find ways to manage conditions such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis.

The grant was awarded to Education Health Research International (EHRI), the non-profit arm of the Milford Wellness Village.

“This is a quality of life and a preventative measure through education, and possibly more importantly, through getting access to healthcare in our present and future world,” said Lon Kieffer, executive director of the Milford Wellness Village.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Kieffer said.

Over the next three years, the non-profit will train 100 volunteers on how to provide virtual educational programs on self-management of chronic diseases to up to 1,000 homebound individuals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists heart disease as the second leading cause of death for Delawareans. Chronic lower respiratory diseases ranks fifth and diabetes seventh.

Some of the content in the courses, Kieffer said, addresses managing portion sizes and tracking sugars and salts in meals.

Kieffer said the courses will also help bridge the digital divide that many of the country’s elderly experience.

“It’s more and more taking the angle of pre-registration online or pre-screening on your phone before you go into the appointment, or waiting on your prescription until you get a text,” he said.

“The people that need the services the most are not ready for that process and since this is a virtual online course, by the time we get you into the first classroom, we’ve already filled a huge gap.”

In addition to helping adults manage their chronic diseases, Kieffer says the training benefits the caregivers.

“I often make the observation that the stress of being a caregiver is, in and of itself, very similar to a chronic disease,” he said. “You can get emotional and physical ailments from caring for others. This will benefit those people too.”

For elderly folks who don’t have access to technology, the program will provide laptops and iPads using grant money.

To learn more about the initiative or become a trained educator, contact Kieffer directly at lkieffer@milfordwellnessvillage.com.