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John Siegel

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Meal Delivery Service for At-Risk Patients

Posted by John Siegel on Feb 10, 2016 10:03:20 AM

John Siegel is the VP of Business Development for GA Foods.  He has extensive experiencworking with health care organizations to optimize benefits provided to their members. Contact John at 954-732-6886 or [email protected] to learn how your organization may benefit by providing these well-received services.

Food Insecurity in At-risk Populations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that in 2014 a total of three million households with seniors (age 65 and older), and over one million seniors living alone, were food insecure. In other words, they don’t have reliable access to an adequate amount of food to meet their daily nutrition requirements.

food_or_medicine_LR.pngAt-risk patients (elderly and chronically ill) with food insecurity may have to choose between paying for their food or for their medication. Inadequate nutrition and/or medication non-compliance leads to increased health care utilization, such as more frequent hospitalizations and readmissions. Compounding the issue, after a hospitalization, patients experience symptoms such as decreased energy, pain, weakness, poor appetite and health-related dietary restrictions. These symptoms make preparing and eating nutritious meals difficult. Weight loss and poor nutrient intake can delay the healing and recovery process, resulting in longer, more challenging recoveries, creating a cycle of relapse and readmission.

The Role of Nutrition Care

Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals (HDM) after a hospitalization or as part of chronic disease management, maximizes patient outcomes while reducing health care costs.

Nutrition care:

  • Promotes faster, more complete recoveries
  • Reduces risk of complications
  • Reduces hospital readmissions
  • Provides crucial support to patients with poor access to healthy foods
  • Improves overall health and quality of life
  • Decreases odds of further hospitalizations due to injury
  • Enhances management of chronic disease

Perhaps more important than these significant outcomes is that an overwhelming majority (92%) of HDM recipients reported these meals allowed them to remain independent and living in their own homes, improving their quality of life. By decreasing their need for shopping and cooking, a meal delivery service provides a regular source of nutritious food for those that need it for their recovery process.

Access to Food

Providing access to food for at-risk patients also reduces health care expenditures paid by Medicare and/or Medicaid and health plans. One study with significant results was from MANNA (Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance), a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia that cooks and delivers medically-appropriate meals and provides nutrition counseling to individuals that are chronically ill. Researchers evaluated health care costs of two sample groups, MANNA clients and a comparison group, matched for gender, age, race, and ethnicity, for a 12-month period. Here are the results from their study:

  • The total average monthly health care costs were $28,000 for MANNA clients and $41,000 for the comparison group.
  • The average cost of a hospitalization was $132,000 for MANNA clients and $220,000 for the comparison group.
  • MANNA clients had 50% less hospitalizations than the comparison group.
  • MANNA clients’ length of stay was 37% shorter than the comparison group.
  • MANNA clients were 20% more likely to be discharged from the hospital to their home rather than to long-term care.

Given the proven benefits for all involved, its no surprise that hundreds of U.S. hospitals, many large health systems and a growing number of health insurance plans are implementing and/or approving post-discharge home-delivered meals as part of their transition care services.

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Topics: Chronic Disease Management, MCO ROI, Healthcare Cost Reduction

Tips for Preventing Malnutrition in Seniors

Posted by John Siegel on Jan 27, 2016 10:48:43 AM

Malnutrition.png

John Siegel is the VP of Business Development for GA Foods.  He has extensive experiencworking with healthcare organizations to optimize benefits provided to their members. Contact John at 954-732-6886 or [email protected] to learn how your organization may benefit by providing these well-received services.

It may seem unbelievable, considering the abundance of food in the U.S., but malnutrition is a very real problem among the elderly. It’s estimated that as many as one out of every four senior citizens suffers from poor nutrition. This can have a serious negative impact on health, from lowered immunity to slower wound healing and exacerbation of existing diseases. It can lead to loss of weight and muscle strength, making daily activities more difficult and increasing the likelihood of falls.

Seniors with poor nutrition make more visits to doctors, hospitals, and even emergency rooms, and their stays are almost twice as long as those of well-nourished patients. Healthcare professionals and other caregivers should be aware of the warning signs for sub-optimal nutrition as they are in an ideal position to coordinate solutions with family and other caregivers before patient discharge.

Warning signs of poor nutrition

Poor nutrition can be a result of many things, from difficulty chewing or swallowing to lack of money for buying food. Being aware of the situations that can lead to malnutrition, and the warning signs that a patient or family member is suffering from poor nutrition is an important part of senior care. If your patient or family member is experiencing any of the following issues, they may be at risk:

Decreased appetite – Reduced appetite is often part of the aging process itself. The ability to taste also declines with age, making food less palatable. Decreased appetite may be a side effect of certain medications, or a symptom of depression.

Unplanned weight loss – This is usually a loss of muscle, not fat. This may be as obvious as the numbers on the scale when the person is being weighed, or you may simply notice that clothes are too loose.

Difficulty swallowing or chewing – Loss of teeth, poorly fitting dentures, or mouth pain can all cause difficulty when eating. This may also be a symptom of cognitive issues.

Chronic illness – Those on special diets for conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, etc. may need help with managing their diet. Special diets such as these may also exclude foods the patient prefers to eat and they may need help adapting their eating patterns.

Recent hospitalization – Lack of appetite is a common aftereffect of illness or injury. While still in recovery mode, the patient may not feel like eating or have the energy to cook.

Fatigue or limited physical function – For some, going shopping for groceries is too tiring. Going to the store, picking out foods, and bringing them home may require more energy than they have to give. Likewise, cooking a meal may be too exhausting for some. Age-related loss of muscle may limit their functional capabilities, putting both these activities beyond their reach.

Minimizing malnutrition among the elderlySeniors.png

It may be difficult for those who are lacking food and most at-risk for malnutrition to ask for help, even when they have supportive friends and family; for those with no support system, the problem is even worse. They may feel that they have no options, or be ashamed of their situation. Opening a discussion and talking about the subject in a non-judgmental and unpatronizing way can be very beneficial. You can then suggest strategies for dealing with some of the more common food-related issues listed above, such as:


Eating several smaller meals per day, including snacks, and increasing activity to stimulate the appetite

Including favorite foods in meals

Using spices to flavor foods—particularly helpful for those with decreased sense of taste, or people who are restricting their salt or sugar intake

Asking family or friends to help with shopping or/and meal preparation—this may be a particular problem for those with limited support, and in some cases home health services may be available

Inviting family or friends over to eat once or twice per week—not only does this provide the opportunity to check in and keep tabs on the patient’s well-being, it also provides social interaction and helps stave off depression

Looking into home-delivered meal service—some health plans cover this type of service, and many home meal delivery services are free or charge on a sliding scale. You can use eldercare.gov to help locate services in your area. For information on how to receive home-delivered meals, click here. Providers offer varying levels of service, from one meal per day to several, and at different costs. GA Foods offers nutritionally sound “heat-and-eat” or shelf-stable senior meal options.

Caring for the elderly is a community effort. Those in caregiving professions play an important role, not just in healthcare, but in making sure that the day-to-day needs of one of our most vulnerable populations are met—and adequate nutrition is high on the list of day-to-day needs.

 If you are a health plan or other health care organization
and want more information, click below:

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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Home Delivered Meals, Chronic Disease Management, Senior Health, Food Insecurity, Food Security Impact

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