For many older adults, access to nutritious meals and other services provided through the Older Americans Act Nutrition Services Program can boost social connection, promote independence, and potentially improve health outcomes. Older adults who participate in congregate meals—group meals provided at a senior center or other community location—are less likely to be admitted into long-term care facilities or nursing homes compared with nonparticipating older adults, according to new research recently published by Mathematica.
This study, completed for the Administration for Community Living in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, revealed that congregate meal participants who lived alone were less likely than nonparticipants to have a hospital admission or emergency department visit that led to hospitalization. Mathematica also examined the impact of home-delivered meals, which are mainly targeted to homebound older adults. More research is necessary to better identify new individually tailored approaches that would improve outcomes for home-delivered meal participants.
Both program components provide participants with meals and additional services, such as nutrition counseling, to help meet the health needs of program participants. This study, the second in a series of reports, is part of an ongoing effort to refocus long-term care away from institutionalization and toward home and community-based services.