A recent article from New York Times’ New Old Age blog speaks to the simplicity and value of Meals on Wheels, a program which started in the 1960s and has served millions of seniors since.
Per the article, the program’s advocates state the ultimate goal as follows: “a hot meal, a greeting, another set of eyes – [which] can help keep people in their homes longer.”
Brown University researchers have now proved this goal as successfully accomplished: says the NYT piece, “States that spent more than the average to deliver meals showed greater reductions in the proportion of nursing home residents who didn’t need to be there.”
When it comes down to it, the major difference between nursing home care and assisted living care is the level of assistance provided. Costs vary too; nursing homes are considerably more expensive, but that relates back to the level of care.
Seniors who only need a little bit of help with day-to-day tasks sometimes end up in nursing homes after a fall or illness, when in reality, they may only need assisted living. This is typically because of the way nursing home care is paid for (Medicare covers a good amount of it) as opposed to assisted living, which is private pay. However, a great number of seniors could avoid — or at least delay — transitioning to either one if they could count on the company and social interaction of a Meals on Wheels volunteer.