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Impact of Home-Delivered Meal Programs on Senior Health

This past summer the Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics published two research articles examining the impact of home-delivered meal programs. The research, carried out in two separate trials, first examined how home-delivered meal programs affect daily energy and nutrient intake for older adults, and second, whether these programs were successfully able to help improve nutritional status, dietary intake, food security, loneliness, and social well-being for adults 60 years of age and older.

Adequate nutrition is essential for healthy aging adults, as it can help prevent injury, illness, and premature institutionalization. However, 1 in 12 seniors living in the United States have limited or uncertain access to enough food, leading to malnutrition. Additionally, seniors are at significantly more vulnerable to social isolation and poor mental well-being. Seniors who are more socially isolated have more physical and mental health issues and a lower perceived health status than those who are socially connected. A clear relationship exists between health status, nutritional intake, and social connectedness among the elderly.

These studies concluded that home-delivered meal programs are effective in promoting a healthier diet and increasing nutrient intake among program participants. These meals successfully increase the intake of protein, fiber, calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, selenium and sodium – all of which are commonly consumed in suboptimal quantity by seniors. Quality of emotional functioning also improved – participants saw a decrease on both the loneliness/social isolation factors and on overall well-being. It is also noteworthy that the benefit may extend to several other problem areas that are correlated with loneliness and emotional well-being in older adults. These include mental health problems and both actual and perceived physical health problems. Overall, these marked improvements in nutritional status, dietary intake, and mental wellness may translate into better quality of life and health outcomes.

At God’s Love We Deliver, we provide home delivered medically tailored meal program to people of all ages with life threatening illnesses, alleviating the stress of food insecurity while providing the tools to eat healthier and better understand how to use food as a form of medicine. Our team of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) evaluate clients on an individual level, creating customized meal plans to ensure that food and nutrient intake is adequate based on individual illnesses, prescribed medications and any other personal issues that may impact their nutritional health. These balanced and nutrient dense meals help to prevent malnutrition and increase well-being, while helping to prevent further illness or hospitalization. Further, in order meet the needs of our growing number of senior clients, our RDNs also specialize in Geriatric Nutrition.

It is programs like ours that are helping to change the way seniors are cared for by providing them with an acceptable quality of life in their own home, preventing debilitating malnutrition and avoiding costly hospitalization. The comparatively low-cost intervention of food and nutrition yields fantastic benefits for both individuals and the health care system, demonstrating #foodismedicine.

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