People aren’t dying like they used to. Thanks to medical advances and better lifestyle choices, Americans are living a lot longer. In fact, those who are 65 or older account for 14.1 percent of the U.S. population, or about 45 million people — the highest percentage ever, according to the Administration on Aging. By 2020, seniors will account for 16.1 percent.

As the number of older Americans increases, so do their needs. Not all of those needs are being met. But the U.S. Postal Service could change that.

Budget constraints in recent years have forced many providers of elderly wellness services – anything promoting physical, emotional, or even financial health – to shutter physical locations and move online. But, according to the National Council on Aging, 41 percent of older Americans do not use the Internet at all, meaning more than 18 million seniors might be cut off from programs they need most.

With its vast network of post offices and letter carriers, isn’t the Postal Service well-positioned to partner with a wide range of wellness service providers who want to reach seniors on the other side of the digital divide?

We hosted a forum with wellness professionals and postal employee representatives who essentially explored that question and concluded that, yes, there are numerous opportunities for mutually beneficial collaborations. We provide details of the discussion in our new paper, The Postal Service's Role in Delivering Wellness Services and Supplies.

Among the possibilities:

Delivering groceries to homebound people, including those without Internet access
Letter carriers alerting a social services organization when a senior along their route might need help
Wellness organizations offering services, such as helping people manage their social security accounts, through unused postal clerk windows
Mobile health units stationed in Post Office parking lots

Each opportunity would allow wellness providers to connect with more elderly individuals, and also help the Postal Service realize new revenue through fee-sharing or rental income while fostering goodwill with individuals and communities throughout the nation.

Tell us your thoughts: What kind of wellness services would you like to see involving the Postal Service? Which of those services do you think are the most important?

Comments (39)

  • anon

    I have been trying for 6 months to get the mail delivered to a porch mailbox for a disabled elderly person . We have turned In two Hardship request forms with the Physicians letter attached indicating this elderly lady is unable to walk to her street box due to being unstable using a walker and having only one leg. Her home I Has a sloped yard to the street box making it very dangerous for her to attempt due to fear of falling and not be able to get up without assistance. She lives alone and has no regular visitors to get mail for her. I do not understand why this is so difficult to accomplish for her. I realize it might take the postman a couple more minutes to deliver to porch but certainly easier than her falling down in attempt to reach street box. She does not drive so can not get that way either. If there is anyone out there that can assist in this I would appreciate. Wing contacted and advised how to get it done. Of the two hardship applications we have turned in , I was told the first one must have gotten lost by the postmaster at our post office. So we went through the process again and it was turned in in November of 2017........ I have called almost weekly to check up on it only to be told they would call, or takes a long time, or we will get back with you,,,,non of this has ever been done. Please someone help me to help this lady. She has no one .

    Feb 01, 2018
  • anon

    I am 81 years of age and have a variety of health problems, including unsteadiness on my feet. How can I request that all of my USPS mail, including packages, be brought to my door? Thank you. Margaret S. Poole Vucina - aka Maggie Vucina

    Jan 18, 2018
  • anon

    My mother will be 84 in March and can no longer walk to her mailbox. She is homebound. Her mailbox is at the end of her driveway probably 600 feet away. What can I do to request her mail be delivered to her door? She lives in Buckland Ohio and especially during the winter, I don't want her to slip and fall with her walker while trying to get her mail. I live in California so am not able to be there for her. What do I need to do to get her mail delivered to her door? Thank you. Julie Williams

    Jan 09, 2018
  • anon

    Of course the USPS is going to overlook the true issue and get into areas that are none of their concern. Welfare checks and social security issues are not the root problem here. Mail delivery is the root problem. First and foremost, you need to raise your job performance standards and your customer service standards. Mail that is thrown away, left outdoors, etc., is unacceptable. Mail that is placed in a box miles away from a person's home is unacceptable. Bring back the mail carrier who delivers mail right to the door! Period. No other nonsense like unused post office windows for social security is needed. The disabled and elderly cannot even get to those!

    Jan 02, 2018
  • anon

    I live in an apartment building, we do have an elevator, at times they ring the downstairs bell and leave the package down stairs, other times they have put the package in front of my door and don't ring my bell, I tripped over one. I am disabled, when you already hurt tripping over packages just makes things worse. I don't have anyone to go down and get my packages. It's hard for me to walk so I go down once a month to get my mail. There is supposed to be a note on my account. One of my biggest gripes is when I call USPS, they ask for my tracking number, but say if all numbers use the keypad of your phone, due to my eyesight and limited mobility I can't do that and when I try, I am too slow for them, the automated system should allow for you to say all numbers, not only if numbers and letters are involved. Also trying to speak to customer service/agent is impossible.

    Dec 27, 2017
  • anon

    I have a similar problem I'm on a walker but can't go very far and be able to breathe at the same time and my boxes halfway down the street I can't get anyone to go there to get my mail in my box gets full so I guess he just throws my mail away because I have people tell me they mail me stuff that I never get so if you could at least get it brought to the door that would be helpful I would even be willing to pay a little bit to get it brought to the door

    Dec 25, 2017
  • anon

    Obviously, the biggest need here is mail delivery to the door of the elderly or infirm. Why are you exploring other areas in which to expand when there is such a glaring need for mail service to the door? See if you can implement that before you move on, please. The idea here of payment for on-site delivery is sound. You certainly have the answer to your question of what is the most important.

    Dec 15, 2017
  • anon

    My dream for my elderly parents is that I could forward all their mail to me, then send selected items back to them. I have Power of Attorney and have changed the address on as much as I can. They have full time caregivers who try to make sure I get what I need, but some things still slip through. This may be a service to consider for the future. Thank you!

    Dec 09, 2017
  • anon

    I have Parkinson' s which affects my walking and my significant other has cancer which also affects his walking. Could we please have the mail delivered to our front door instead of the mailbox by the street? This would be a great relief for us.

    Dec 09, 2017
  • anon

    I live in Rockwall County Texas. I have had handicap delivery for several years. Every time there is a sub I don't get my mail. The subs are never informed and put my mail in the old box up on the corner. I have never been allowed to speak to the Postmaster, being told that he/she is not in each time. I have been promised on numerous occasions that it will be rectified and will never happen again. I have hung a laminated sign inside the old box. It has always been ignored. I have put rubber bands around the top of the box so they can't open it. They take off the band's and put it in anyway. There has always been a postal form in the box saying to deliver to my door. Please help me. This has become very stressful.

    Dec 08, 2017
  • anon

    My Mom is almost 94 year old. She has visual impairments as well as congestive heart failure; however, she still able to live independently. We were able to get her newspaper delivered closer to the door. But, her mailbox is approximately 90 feet away from the door at the end of her driveway. She must go down the driveway with her cane or walker in inclement weather. Could we possibly move the mailbox closer to the house? The mail carrier would not need to get out of the car as the driveway is flat terrain, double drive, no obstructions and drive in and out. Thank you

    Nov 25, 2017
  • anon

    My mother-in-law is 86 years old and lives by herself. She gets around using a cane and was concerned about going out to the end of her driveway in the winter to get her mail. We asked the Beaverton Michigan Post Office about moving her mailbox up to the end of her porch so she wouldn't slip on the ice and we were told that they couldn't do that because the delivery people would be required to get out of their car. They would have to get out of their car? That's nice. I have seen the people that deliver the mail in Beaverton and believe me they could stand to get out of the car and move around. I have Amazon Prime and get pretty much anything that I want to be delivered directly to my front door. Why can't the Post Office do that? You see these are some of the reasons that the Post Office is such a losing proposition. I think you guys should do the country a huge service by shutting down and let FedEx or UPS take it over.

    Nov 22, 2017
  • anon

    I am a senior citizen 73 yrs old and disabled. It is hard for me to believe the postal bosses really care because in my senior apartment complex the post man is not allow to bring packages to my apartment on the 2nd floor and we not have a box for packages in our building. He said he was forbidden to take the elevator or stairs or he would be out of work without pay. The post office is far from my home. I have to be there to get my pkg. and carry it on my walker. thank you for listening.

    Nov 13, 2017
  • anon

    Can my elderly parent have her mailbox moved closer to her front door?

    Nov 13, 2017
  • anon

    I would like to see a program by which letter carriers deliver packages to the door of immobile senior citizens and disabled people living in apartments. They deliver packages to the door of freestanding houses, so why not apartments? It is very difficult for some of us seniors who cannot drive to arrange to get to the post office to pick up packages.

    Oct 04, 2017
  • anon

    The most frequent comment on your OIG website is people wanting mail delivery to their front door. I would like that too. Why not offer that as a “fee-for-service.” I pay Amazon $99 dollars a year for Prime. I would be happy to pay the Post Office for delivery to my front door. Such a service would take less than sixty seconds per delivery (I timed it). Sixty seconds, six days a week would add 312 minutes to the postman’s annual work schedule, or 5.2 hours. If you calculate payroll plus overhead at $125/hour that’s an extra cost of $650 per year. Provide that service for a monthly fee for everyone who wants delivery to their door and you have added a tidy revenue stream for the USPS budget. Sign me up.

    Aug 29, 2017
  • anon

    Dear Inspector: I am 91 and my wife is 90 years old. We are very unstable and walking to the mail box each day is very dangerous undertaking. If we were to fall, which is our worry, we would not be able to get up. Does the USPS offer any delivery to our front door to negate our fear of going all the way to the curb to retrieve our mail ??? THANK YOU

    Aug 16, 2017
  • anon

    Hello Inspector Over 55 communities have a problem with their common mail box setup. For my mother the mail boxes are at the top of a hill which she was driving to or stopping when returning home. The driving has stopped for my mom and she could never walk to the boxes. I asked at the local post office for a delivery to the condo and would be willing to pay a reasoonable fee. I was told this is a contract route and most likely nothing would be done but call back and ask the post master. What can the USPS do for seniors this would be a simple thing. How to proceed! Thank you

    Aug 01, 2017
  • anon

    I was getting my mail delivered to my door because of physical disability rather than community mailbox until my son had his mail forwarded to my condo. The carrier decided that he was living with me so stopped my delivery. He did not and had not lived with me. The supervisor, head of post office and carrier have lied to me. Please help!

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your comment. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on the USPS website.

    Jul 28, 2017
  • anon

    I have late stage cancer and it's become a problem walking to the post office to get the mail. I don't get up there but once every 2-3 weeks in winter, I try to get there at least weekly in summer. The employees are clearly mad at me, and I'm embarrassed to even go in there. Sometimes they are openly rude. I have no vehicle, I would like to have a mailbox at my house for delivery of mail. What can I do?

    Jun 13, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your comment. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (800-275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service on the USPS website.

    Jun 13, 2017
  • anon

    Relocation of mail boxes should be easier to accomplish. A family member in Hot Springs,AK 71913 (over 70) just had major surgery and faces a second surgery. Her mail box is not even on the same street. Going on her 2 dwelling Road will involve an extra minute and possibly turning around. She got no promised call backs while I was there. No answer on permission to move box. Her situation of 6 plus months is not permanent. Maybe she is not forceful enough but 40 years of going around the corner and crossing the street should be enough. At 70, get residential mail delivered to the property. One can be sick or disabled on short notice. I am older. Wonder if this is standard run around.

    May 20, 2017
  • anon

    HI P Ray, Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service which investigates and audits internal fraud, waste, and abuse; and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, (1 (800) 275-8777), or file an online complaint with Customer Service. Very Respectfully, The USPS Office of Inspector General

    May 22, 2017
  • anon

    My dad will be 90 in a few months is alone and very difficult for him to get his mail. His mail box is not that far but very far for him. Is there any way ( even if not every day ) he can have brought to his door? Did not want to comment only. Looking for help

    Mar 08, 2017
  • anon

    I am trying to find out if my elderly mother can have her mail delivered either at the door or garage door. Or even better her drive that is very long and wide. We could move the box to another location on the drive that is off the very busy main street she lives on. It is dangerous for her to walk to the street and dodge cars at 40 plus mph. It is a semi rural area so the driver would not have to leave the vehicle to deliver we can put the mailbox where he/she can drop and circle around easily.

    Mar 07, 2017
  • anon

    How can I get my mail delivered to my door? My only disability is that when I reached 90 years of age, I found it difficult to maintain sure footing. I can drive to the group mailboxes but have difficulty stepping from the street to the muddy area or fire ants surrounding the boxes. So far, I have been able to hang on to the box as I step up onto the unpaved area of the boxes. But it is very dangerous if I have mail in my hands. No one lives with me. Can you please help me?

    Feb 24, 2017
  • anon

    I will be 80 years old, alone, and having a problem walking to the mailbox. I leave mail there for days. Sometimes the mailman collects it and brings it to the door if I have a box. I would be willing to pay for this extra service of door delivery. You could sell me a sticker, placed inside my mailbox, the the mail persons would know to take it to the door. The mail is becoming a worry!

    Mar 01, 2016
  • anon

    Ask the United States Postal Service (USPS) to notify the elderly instantly of letter postal mail delivery so your grandmother can go into the winter rainy weather to get her postal mail once. The service could voicemail a preprogrammed call with the voice of grandchildren. "Hello Grandma/Grandpa your mail is here, Happy Birthday!, its 70 degrees outside, I Love You, granddaughter."

    Feb 17, 2016
  • anon

    How do I go about helping my grandmother get her mail delivered to her house? She currently has a mailbox on the cut line that is greater than 40 feet away from the house. Is there away for us to install a mailbox on the house so that she doesn't have to walk to the end of her long driveway? She lives alone so a fear of her falling and no one knowing is a large fear of mine. Thank you

    Jan 04, 2016
  • anon

    Thank you for your post in regards to this matter. Please contact USPS Customer Support at (877) 275-8777 for assistance with these further inquiries. Thank you.

    Jan 05, 2016
  • anon

    How do I go about requesting door delivery for my elderly parents (92/87) so they do not have to go down a steep driveway on winter ice and snow to get their mail at the street mailbox. We really appreciate our postal carriers. They are great people.

    Dec 06, 2015
  • anon

    Our office serves a retirement community, along with an influx of snowbirds. Our carriers know their customers. They are somewhat the watch dog of the area. We have had carriers report and assist in numerous emergency issues. Checking on customers when something looks amiss has proven to be a life saver several times. The carriers are the eyes and ears of the community. Alerting social services, providing delivery of packages to aid the elderly in getting packages safely inside, keeping "local" mail local (customers want their sympathy, birthday, life celebration cards kept in town), assisting customers with tracking, by calling our office (they don't have internet and don't want it). Selling them stamps, helping them get packages from their vehicles also. All of your ideas sound great. Assistance with social security was suggested, for our area VA assistance would be even better. If I may suggest one idea. Our office, because of the elderly handles a lot of packaging across the counter. Grandmothers and grandfathers mail ALOT of presents. There are a lot of family members receiving packages via USPS. We make a huge effort to display packaging (ReadiPost) in a manner that is easily viewed for the elderly. Each size is hung on the wall. Doesn't come with the hole to hang, but we hang every padded and bubble wrap envelope (using a hole punch to make the hole). Our boxes are in display with pricing in very large letters for ease of reading to provide size and cost of each box. We go on the theory if it isn't easily viewed the customer will not purchase. Our retail product sales increased dramatically when we started displaying this way. Aside, I do wish we would drop one product line. No sense to carry a padded envelope and a cushion envelope. With small offices we have very limited space. The products are redundant. Displaying in the lobby should be at the most simplistic manner. With the elderly, confusion can come very quickly. If coming to the post office is frustrating, they won't come back again. The elderly are quickest to stop a practice if becomes difficult. I've said this before, but if the USPS would just drill down to the demographics of their offices they could tap into what each customer base needs. For us this topic is up our alley, to another this could be a waste of time.

    Aug 06, 2015
  • anon

    great ideas

    Aug 03, 2015
  • anon

    With the current state of delivery service, I would venture that homebound persons would go hungry before their goods were delivered by the Postal Service. In our area, we feel fortunate indeed to actually have the mail, indeed the correct mail, delivered in a timely fashion. While many of the "old time" letter carriers knew their customers, the newer carriers don't bother to interact with their customers at all. No more ringing the bell when they have a Priority Mail package; instead it's just thrown somewhere close to the doorstep. The carrier has absolutely no idea who lives in the home. Our old carrier who has moved on to better things knew the route, who was inform, who was on medical assist devices and would check on them, Never going to happen with the new carriers who want to dump the mail and move on. If you try and give them something else to do their supervisors will complain they don't deliver fast enough, a cause for poor service currently. How about getting back to delivering the mail efficiently? And quit whining about how much you lose every year because you constantly have retirement and benefit issues. Get your big boy pants on and run this like a private enterprise, not one that depends on the government dole to bail you out every year.

    Aug 03, 2015
  • anon

    My mailman picks up the odd letter or two for me to mail if I leave them stamped and in plain view for him. Wow it would be great if I could get stamps that way!

    Jul 30, 2015
  • anon

    We all have gifts. To be shared. Not hoarded. Carriers are the connection to the elderly, widowed and sick customers in our area. They see families grow, children get married, death, college and even tragedy. For customers that have their own routes, they become part of a family. A residential family. It's an awesome idea. Our carriers are the Internet, store, companion, friend. I would love to see that happen. Gives me hope.

    Jul 27, 2015
  • anon

    All of the services that you mention have been suggested in the past by postal employees...both craft and management - even within the last 2 to 3 years. However, it seems that if a suggestion, such as those you propose here, are presented to postal management they reach a dead end and usually fall upon deaf ears. I have been retired since 2007 but even before I retired I submitted a great national cost saving suggestion to my PM and never received any response at all...other than watching my suggestion being implemented, by that same postmaster, nationally, just a little more than a year later. If an employee submits a good valid suggestion please...keep that suggestion on file and give credit where credit is due if that suggestion is implemented...even partially. It is not fair for USPS managers to receive credit for a suggestion that they did not really give birth to.

    Jul 27, 2015
  • anon

    Back in the 70's or early 80's when we had the blue and white Jeeps, a coworker put in a suggestion that they just paint the Jeeps white and put blue and red stripes on them to save from having the blue coat painted on. His suggestion was rejected locally...lo and behold a few years later all of a sudden the new vehicles came in all white with red and blue stripes, and it continues to this day. Wonder who got credit for that idea.

    Jul 27, 2015

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