Implementing a Community-Based Initiative to Improve Nutritional Intake among Home-Delivered Meal Recipients
Economics, Finance and Quantitative Analysis
Home-delivered meal (HDM) recipients are a highly vulnerable group of older adults at risk for malnutrition and subsequent health decline. To help HDM recipients increase their nutritional intake, HDM agencies may provide expanded meal options that allow older adults to have greater autonomy over their meal selection; however, the extent to which recipients are able to select nutritious meals that are responsive to their health complexities is unknown. This study examined the nutritional content of meals selected by HDM recipients enrolled in an expanded menu plan through a large HDM agency. Data were drawn from a retrospective chart review of 130 HDM recipients who had the option of selecting their own HDM meals and frequency of meal delivery. Findings indicate that older adults who selected their own meals chose meals that were significantly lower in protein, potassium, fat, and calories. The lack of these nutrients suggests that older adults enrolled in expanded menu plans should be referred to registered dietitian nutritionists who can provide skilled guidance in meal selection. To address this need, we also describe and provide preliminary data representing a referral program designed to connect HDM recipients to dietetic services with the goal of optimizing older adult nutrition and health-related outcomes.
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