Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Georgia seniors enter nursing homes later in life thanks to nutritional wellness program

Results from a study on the impact of a Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Aging Services (DAS) nutritional wellness program reveals older Georgians are staying in their own homes longer before having to enter a nursing home.

Since state fiscal year 2007, nursing home placements for older adults involved in DAS nutrition programs have been increasingly delayed. In state fiscal year 2008, for example, older adults avoided nursing home placement an average of three years longer than older adults not involved in the program.

“What this really means is that good nutrition is a major factor in keeping older Georgians healthy and more independent,” said Maria Greene, director of DAS. “Our nutrition programs provide healthy meals to thousands of seniors across the state. Since there is a direct link between poor nutrition and chronic health problems, providing older adults access to fresh produce and healthy foods can seriously improve their quality of life.”

The results of the study are part of the Performance Outcomes Measurement Project (POMP), a federal initiative that measures the effectiveness of Title III services, including nutrition programs, for older Americans. The study measured the level of “food insecurity” experienced by participating older Georgians. Food insecurity refers to the limited or uncertain availability of safe, nutritious foods.

The POMP study found that 11.5% of participants in Georgia were experiencing food insecurity. The Division of Aging Services provides a variety of services to older adults to address this issue, including nutrition screening, prepared meals, nutrition education and a Farmer’s Market program that makes fresh, locally grown produce available to seniors.

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