State Support for Meals on Wheels Helps Seniors Avoid Nursing Homes
A recent study by Kali Thomas and Vincent Mor in the journal Health Services Research has determined that the more the States spend on home delivered meals under the Older American’s Act (OAA), the greater it reduces the percentage of seniors with low-care service needs that would have been in a nursing home. In New York State, that amounts to a savings of $28,000 for every 1% of home delivered meals provided to adults above the age of 65 years old. *
Locally, Meals on Wheels of Syracuse (MOWS) provides home delivered meals in the City of Syracuse and portions of Southern Onondaga County. MOWS receives OAA Title IIIC2 funding to provide meals to seniors 60 and older with low incomes who are homebound. MOWS has social workers and dietitians who make home visits and can assist recipients by linking them to other needed services or providing nutrition counseling. Volunteers deliver meals weekdays and through their daily contact provide a safety check to each recipient. These basic services can make the difference between a senior staying independent in their home or ending in a nursing home facility with low care needs.
One of the Meals on Wheels Social Workers, Kathy Alibrandi reported recently assisting a senior who if in a nursing facility would be considered “low care”. She explains, “I made a home visit to an elderly woman who was visually impaired and unable to shop or cook for herself. She did not have others to help her in her home. She has received Meals on Wheels and has remained independent in her home for ten years with just that help alone”. Alibrandi, recently assisted the visually impaired meal recipient by providing a referral for her to get someone to help her with a chore that she wasn’t able to do because of her diminishing eyesight. The meal recipient accepted the help resulting not only in the completion of a task that she wanted done, but that relationship turned into new friendship as well. She now has another person in her life that she can rely on and this has brought her much happiness. “I feel like we helped put a piece of the puzzle in for this lady’s life at home” said Alibrandi.
Keeping “low care” homebound seniors out of nursing homes through nutritional home delivered meals appears a win/win for the senior and taxpayers in Syracuse and New York State.