Looking toward meal delivery programs as an avenue to monitor at-risk older adults

July 2, 2019
Medicare Web

A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on June 12 suggests home-delivered meal programs could provide an alternative avenue for monitoring changes in older adult meal recipients’ health, safety, and well-being.

The study was conducted over a 12-month period and instructed meal delivery drivers to use a mobile application to submit electronic alerts if they had a concern or noticed a change in a recipient’s condition. These alerts were sent to care coordinators, who followed up with the meal recipients to offer support and connect them to health and community services. These meal recipients are predominately homebound older adults who frequently have multiple chronic conditions, functional limitations, and a variety of complex care needs.

During the year-long study, 429 alerts were submitted for 189 clients in two pilot sites. The most frequent alerts were overwhelmingly submitted for changes in health, as those alerts constituted 56% of the total alerts issued. Concerns about self-care or personal safety (12%) and mobility (11%) were the second and third most frequent alerts. A total of 132 referrals were issued after follow-ups with care coordinators. Most of those were related to self-care (33%), health (17%), and care management services (17%).   

The study concluded that meal-delivery programs could be a possible early-warning system for vulnerable older adults and may help prevent further decline while improving quality of life.

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