A new study out of Brown University offers food for thought. It shows that one way to keep people out of nursing homes — so they can age in place, at home — is for states to offer more home-delivered meals.
The report revealed that states that invest the most in home-based meals, like Meals On Wheels, have fewer nursing home admissions for “low-care” residents. Low-care means a person lives in a nursing home yet doesn’t require many of the services offered. In 2009, 12.6 percent of nursing home residents were classified as “low-care.” (The number in that category has dropped from 17.9 percent in 2000, thanks in part to government-funded home- and community-based programs.)
So, with help like meals, others may be able to avoid the expensive, long-term care route. And few people want to take that path. An AARP study in 2010 found that 88 percent of Americans age 65+ would like to grow old at home.
Brown University researchers analyzed statistics from 2000-2009 that included 16,030 nursing homes nationwide, state spending on the Older Americans Act (OAA) — the majority of OAA spending is on home-delivered meals — and public health and nursing home data compiled by Brown’s Shaping Long-Term Care in America project.
In fiscal 2010, 868,000 people received these meals. The following statistic is a lot to digest, but shows the dramatic impact government-subsidized meal programs can have: for every $25 a year per person above the national average that states spend on home-delivered meals, they could shave their percentage of low-care residents compared to the national average by one percentage point.
Does your parent, neighbor, family friend get home-delivered meals? Do you think it is making a difference? Helping to keep them out of a nursing home? I’d love to hear from you!
Photo by Michael Seth courtesy of Creative Commons
Photo courtesy of MealsonWheels.org via the Latrobe City Council.