Good nutrition for all ages is important for good health and fitness, but it is crucial as seniors age and physical capacity declines. Research shows that when seniors do not eat nutritionally well-balanced diets they often display symptoms similar to those of serious disease or illness, which may result in costly and often unnecessary treatment. To contribute to good health and reduce the problems associated with misdiagnosis, a nutrition program has become a central part of the Division of Aging and Adult Services' delivery system.
The Nutrition Program for the Elderly provides:
- An array of nutrition services, including nutrition assessment
- Counseling, therapeutic meals and nutritional supplements as medically warranted, a full complement of daily meals, and other services.
- Nutrition education services to the elderly; prepares and delivers nutritious meals to senior centers for congregate meals, and delivers meals to the homes of older persons who are unable to obtain or to prepare their own nutritious meals.
- Encourages "the team" of health and social service professionals serving older persons and their caregivers to routinely evaluate the nutritional status of elderly persons through nutrition screening for malnutrition as a part of regular assessment procedures.
- Promotes and emphasizes comprehensive preventive approaches which utilize community nutrition services to maintain the health and independence of older persons.
Congregate MealsNutritionally sound meals are provided to persons over the age of 60 at a variety of senior centers and nutrition sites conveniently located to those with the greatest economic and social needs. Nutrition education, socialization and physical fitness activities are also provided and shelf stable meals are distributed to participants for use at home during severe weather or other emergency situations.
In 2000, more than 928,900 congregate meals were served to over 24,498 older citizens.
Home Delivered Meals (known as Meals on Wheels)
Older Utahns can qualify for this program as a result of either a temporary situation, such as recent discharge from a hospital, or, due to frailty or permanent disability. Home-delivered meals make it possible for homebound persons to maintain adequate nutrition.
In 2000, more than 30,500 home-delivered meals were delivered to seniors throughout Utah's network of nineteen local Area Agencies on Aging. The Area Agencies either provide services directly to older persons or contract with other public or private agencies to administer programs.