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Seniorgram: Sending a Message on Senior Issues

Malnutrition and elders – the need is now

RoseannMartocciaHeadshotRoseann MartocciaThe Massachusetts Malnutrition Commission began its work in February following the passage of S.2147. The Commission will study the impact of malnutrition on Massachusetts seniors across care settings and investigate effective strategies for reducing malnutrition. The Commission will look closely at the impact on healthcare quality indicators, costs and outcomes. The Malnutrition Prevention Commission will focus on study and recommendations regarding strategies for public awareness, ways to improve data collection and analysis to identify malnutrition risk. They will also assess the risk and measure the incidence of malnutrition occurring in various settings across the continuum of care and impact of care transitions. The Commission’s work will conclude with a report to the Governor and Legislature.

At LifePath, here’s how we describe the positive impact of providing nutritional support to elders though our Nutrition Program, which oversees Meals on Wheels as well as dining centers and luncheon clubs:

  • Meals are nutritionally balanced and meet one third of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) requirements. The meals are low salt and low fat. Therapeutic meals are available when prescribed by the person’s physician.
  • Meals served at senior centers and community sites offer an opportunity for a meal and the company of others.
  • As the programs are donation based, they do not strain monthly financial resources for many who are on a limited and fixed income when other basic needs such as food, housing/energy and health-related costs, including medication, are competing for each dollar.
  • Meals on Wheels provides a hot noontime meal, a check-in from the driver who delivers the meal and peace of mind to caregivers who are at work or living at a distance from their loved one.

According to research conducted by Meals on Wheels America (“Hunger in Older Adults,” February 2017), malnutrition and its impact on health is significant: “Malnutrition results when the body does not get the right balance of nutrients and calories to stay healthy. Malnutrition can be found in a nursing home, hospital or one’s own home or community. There are estimates that up to 50% of older adults may be malnourished, and that up to 33% of older adults admitted to the hospital may be malnourished. Malnourished older adults are likely to have higher levels of healthcare utilization, such as more frequent hospital admissions and longer hospital stays.”

There is an urgent need to combat malnutrition for elders through research and action.

Thank you for the opportunity to connect with our readers monthly. The Seniorgram will continue! Barbara Bodzin, executive director of LifePath, will commence writing the articles in May. Franklin County and the North Quabbin are caring communities. It has been a pleasure to work in and serve these communities. I look forward to when our paths cross again. See you at the Meals on Wheels Walkathon on April 28 at 101 Munson Street, Greenfield.