TAMPA - Once a week, Gloria comes to visit 60-year-old John Kroll, bringing with her a box full of treasure that has changed his life.
"I was living on bologna sandwiches and soup until I got on this program, and I'm a diabetic," said John. "I'm supposed to take care of myself, but I couldn't afford to. There's no way with my income."
Through the Hillsborough County Department of Aging, John applied for and qualified for the nutrition program. He gets healthy meals delivered in bulk, once a week.
"I lost 52 pounds since February. My insulin usage is cut in half. I no longer take medicine for high blood pressure. I mean, it's been a godsend."
Venerria Thomas, the Director of Family and Aging Services in Hillsborough County, says that's just one of many programs keeping seniors like John independent.
"Another option we have is our dining centers. We have 19 in Hillsborough County. These are wonderful opportunities for seniors to come together with other seniors and enjoy a meal."
Another crucial program allowing seniors independence is The Sunshine Line, a van transportation system that costs very little, if anything.
Without the line, June Irene says she couldn't make it to a weekly class at the Lutz Senior Center. "I use it for everything, really. I come here two days a week. I utilize the service for my medical appointments (which I have many), for marketing and shopping."
And the drivers are very aware their clients may need some extra help.
Michele Ingram is the Human Services Supervisor at the Department of Family & Aging Services in Hillsborough County. She says, "They kind of know their needs. They know their care givers and can really assist them as much as possible getting them to and from their locations so they make sure their safety in ensured, getting on the van and off the van, then they also make sure they're inside the building and they're safe. "
Most of these senior programs require an application and you may need to meet certain financial requirements. For more information on these programs or similar programs in your county you can head over to http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/index.aspx?NID=1162 or http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/aging .
On Thursday, August 1, 2013, between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m., experts will be on hand to take questions about caring for your aging loved ones.
If you want to ask about housing, legal or financial planning, senior programs, or how to protect the elderly from abuse or scams, visit abcactionnews.com/yourparents to participate in the web chat.