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Food and Nutrition Programs for Community-Residing Older Adults

Position of the American Dietetic Association, the American Society for Nutrition, and the Society for Nutrition Education

 

Volume 110, Issue 3, Pages 463-472 (March 2010)

 

Abstract

 

Given the federal cost-containment policy to rebalance long-term care away from nursing homes to home- and community-based services, it is the position of the American Dietetic Association, the American Society for Nutrition, and the Society for Nutrition Education that all older adults should have access to food and nutrition programs that ensure the availability of safe, adequate food to promote optimal nutritional status. Appropriate food and nutrition programs include adequately funded food assistance and meal programs, nutrition education, screening, assessment, counseling, therapy, monitoring, evaluation, and outcomes documentation to ensure more healthful aging. The growing number of older adults, the health care focus on prevention, and the global economic situation accentuate the fundamental need for these programs. Yet far too often food and nutrition programs are disregarded or taken for granted. Growing older generally increases nutritional risk. Illnesses and chronic diseases; physical, cognitive, and social challenges; racial, ethnic, and linguistic differences; and low socioeconomic status can further complicate a situation. The beneficial effects of nutrition for health promotion, risk reduction, and disease management need emphasis. Although many older adults are enjoying longer and more healthful lives in their own homes, others, especially those with health disparities and poor nutritional status, would benefit from greater access to food and nutrition programs and services. Food and nutrition practitioners can play a major role in promoting universal access and integrating food and nutrition programs and nutrition services into home- and community-based services.