Articles and Information from GA Foods

Let Us Take Nutrition Care Off Your Plate!

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Jul 12, 2017 11:02:45 AM

Hunger-man-with-cane2.jpgWe know avoiding hospitalizations is a top priority for health plans. One way to keep your members out of the hospital, and to reduce the chance of readmission, is to prevent malnutrition. In fact, roughly one-third of patients who are not malnourished at admission will become so during their stay. Weight loss, being underweight, and failure-to-thrive/malnutrition have all been associated with readmission within 30 days of discharge.

Is My Member Malnourished? 

Here are some signs to look for to see if your members may be at risk for malnutrition:

  • Unplanned weight loss – This is usually a loss of muscle, not fat. 
  • Chronic Illness – Those on special diets for conditions such as diabetes and hypertension may need help managing their diets. Special diets such as these may exclude foods the patient prefers to eat. 
  • Recent hospitalization – Lack of appetite is common after an illness or injury. Members may not feel like eating or have the energy to cook.

Malnutrition is common after discharge.  Members may have difficulty preparing nutritionally balanced meals at home.  Busy caregivers may not know what meals are best for their loved ones.

Members who are malnourished face several risks:

  • Increased risk of pressure ulcers
  • Decreased wound healing
  • Higher rates of inflection
  • More hospital readmissions and higher healthcare costs. 

Food as Medicine

Proper nutrition can be like medicine for those suffering from a chronic condition. Those with diabetes and cardiac conditions need to adhere to diets that are low in sugar, fat, sodium, and cholesterol. 

Referring your members to a home-delivered meal provider will help to ensure they will be eating nutritious meals. Home-delivered meals after a hospitalization can help reduce malnutrition and improve results in managing chronic diseases and conditions. Post-discharge meals significantly impact both short-term recovery rates and the long-term health of members.

Six out of eight studies found that home-delivered meals significantly improved diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced food insecurity and nutritional risks among participants.  

To learn more about the impact of nutrition on the health of your members, download our eBook.

home delivered meals for discharge patients 

 

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Malnutrition, Post Discharge, Senior Nutrition

Want a Faster Recovery? Ask for Help!

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Jun 22, 2017 11:53:54 AM

Senior-Woman-Gardener-1.jpg

According to Kaiser Health News, 28 percent of patients (many being older adults) who are offered home health care services when they are discharged from the hospital, refuse the services available, which could lead to delayed recoveries, and reduced independence. Studies indicate that those who refuse post-discharge services may have higher rates of readmission to the hospital and a lower quality of life.

Time to Think About You!

After spending a lifetime supporting families and caring for others, many baby boomers find it difficult to ask for help. They may feel that accepting help is a weakness, and may lead to loss of control of their lives. In reality, accepting services can actually improve the recovery process, and help seniors to get better faster. 

Loss of independence is the number one fear among seniors. What many don’t realize are that the services available can help them to recover better in their own homes.

There are several services that Medicare may cover to help discharged patients get better at home.  A sample include skilled nursing, speech therapy, and physical therapy. Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover home-delivered meals as well.

The Role of Nutrition

One out of every three adults admitted to the hospital suffers from malnutrition. If untreated, two-thirds will become severely malnourished during their stay. Approximately one-third of patients who are not malnourished will become so by the time they are discharged.

If you have concerns that you, or a loved one, may be suffering from malnutrition, here are some things to look for:

  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Not eating or only eating small amounts
  • Weakness and/or fatigue

Several health plans offer home-delivered meals to their members after a hospital stay. These meals can significantly impact both short-term and recovery and the long-term health of patients. Weight loss and poor nutrient intake can delay the healing and recovery process, resulting in longer, more challenging recoveries.

Home-Delivered Meals

After returning home from the hospital, it may be difficult to prepare meals. This can be especially hard for those suffering from fatigue or limited mobility. Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals, help older Americans to live more independently. Seniors will have the reassurance of receiving nutritious meals delivered right to their home.

  • Home-delivered meals, after a hospitalization, may significantly reduce nutrition-related complications. 
  • Home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls in the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.
  • 92 percent of home-delivered meal recipients reported these meals allowed them to remain independent and living in their own homes.

Get Back Out There!

Today's active adults want to return to their normal activities as soon as possible. An illness or hospital stay doesn’t mean the end of a normal life for many. Sometimes a little help can go a long way to a faster, smoother recovery.

To find out if you, or a loved one, qualify for home-delivered meals, contact your health plan. Even those with chronic illnesses may qualify for home-delivered meals. Visit www.eldercare.gov to learn more.

Even after your recovery, remember eating nutritious foods can improve your overall health and give you the energy you need to stay active!  

Download our eBook for more information.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Medicare, Nutrition Care, Malnutrition, Post Discharge, Aging Well

Does Food Security Impact Hospital Readmissions?

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Apr 20, 2016 9:59:59 AM

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Food Security (or Insecurity) Defined!

Food security, or insecurity, is a social, cultural or economic status, whereas hunger is a physiological condition – the physical pain and discomfort someone experiences. Hunger doesn’t describe the scope of food security, or insecurity, which is when people do not have access to enough food for an active, healthy life.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed a validated survey with 18 questions to determine a person’s level of food security. Based on the answers to these questions, the USDA defines the levels of food security as:

  • High food security: answers “no” to all 18 questions.
  • Marginal food security: answers “yes” to one or two questions.
  • Low food security: answers “yes” to three or more questions.
  • Very low food security: answers “yes” to five or more questions in homes without children or “yes” to eight or more questions in households with children.

Food Security Among the Elderly

In the US, 48.1 million people live in households with low or very low food security. Of those people, 20% or 9.6 million are seniors. Seniors with low food security tend to have medical and mobility challenges. Per AARP, those at the greatest risk for low food security are the poor, minorities, the unemployed, the disabled, and those living in the South.

Older adults above the poverty level may also be at risk for low food security, particularly if they are unable to shop for and prepare foods.

Consequences of Low Food Security

Low food security is a strong predictor of health problems like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and pulmonary disease. Adding to the problem, these chronic conditions increase the medical expenses of those with low food security, often forcing them to choose between paying for medical care and buying food. In turn, the chronic conditions increase healthcare expenditures paid by health plans, Medicare and/or Medicaid.

A recent study looked at the impact that low food security has on high rates of hospital readmissions. They interviewed 40 adults with three or more hospitalizations within a 12-month period. Here are their findings:

  • 30% were low or very low food secure
  • 25% were marginally food secure
  • 75% were unable to shop for food on their own
  • 58% were unable to prepare their own food 

The researchers recommend interventions that educate and connect patients with unmet food needs to community resources after discharge. 

hospitalization_LR.pngTransition Care Planning

Healthcare professionals need to evaluate a patient’s food security level as part of the transitional care plan upon discharge from the hospital. Most transition care models don’t incorporate nutrition care, including screening for unmet food needs, after discharge. A guide from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, recommends addressing food security as a strategy to avoid readmissions for diverse populations. After a hospitalization, patients generally have decreased energy, pain, weakness, and a poor appetite, putting those with low food security at an even greater risk for malnutrition, and associated poor outcomes.

Connecting low food secure patients with resources such as home-delivered meals (HDM), decreases their need for shopping and cooking after a hospitalization. HDMs provide a regular source of nutritious food for those that need it for their recovery, reducing medical costs and the risk of a hospital readmission.

 

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Topics: Malnutrition in Elderly, Senior Health, Healthcare Cost Reduction, Food Insecurity, Medicare, Food Security, Malnutrition, Medicaid

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