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Community Support, 2018 Senior Report
  • U.S. HHS, Administration for Community Living, State Program Reports, 2015

Food Insecurity, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: Food Insecurity - Ages 60+, 2018 Senior Report

Why does this matter?

Food insecurity is a socioeconomic condition where access to food is limited or uncertain. It differs from hunger in that hunger is a physiological feeling. Older adults with food insecurity may have significantly reduced intakes of vital nutrients, which could adversely affect overall health. Research indicates that food insecurity is associated with a higher prevalence of health problems such as heart attack, congestive heart failure, diabetes, asthma and depression, and limited physical functioning in daily living

Older adults living at home report sometimes missing or skipping meals due to factors that impact their ability to obtain or prepare food, including disability or functional limitations, lack of reliable social support, lack of reliable transportation and inability to afford food.

Older adults with chronic conditions who experience food insecurity have higher health care costs compared with those who have the same conditions but are not food insecure. A 2019 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that adults experiencing food insecurity had annual health care expenditures $1,834 higher than food-secure adults, for a cumulative median cost of $687 million per state.

  • Feeding America, The State of Senior Hunger in America, 2015

Home-Delivered Meals, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: Home-delivered Meals, 2018 Senior Report

Why does this Matter?

Access to healthy food can be a struggle for some older adults and is of particular concern for those living at home. Home-delivered meal programs can enhance quality of life, provide a stable source of nutrition, increase nutrient intake and prolong the amount of time that older adults can remain independent and live in their own homes. The Administration for Community Living created the 1965 Older Americans Act (OAA) Nutrition Program to help address hunger among adults ages 60 and older. The purpose of this program is to reduce hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition, promote socialization, advance the health of older adults through nutrition and other preventive health services, and delay the onset of adverse health conditions from physical inactivity and poor nutrition. Home-delivered meal programs provide more than just physical nourishment to older adults, they serve as an informal safety check and a point of social interaction. 

Home-delivered meal programs are cost-effective. One year of Meals on Wheels costs the same as staying in a hospital for one day or staying in a nursing home for 10 days. Receiving home-delivered meals such as Meals on Wheels is also associated with decreased hospitalization and emergency room visit rates and nursing home use.

  • U.S. HHS, Administration for Community Living, State Program Reports, 2015

Nursing Home Quality, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: Nursing Home Quality, 2018 Senior Report

Why does this matter?

In 2020, there were approximately 1.3 million residents in more than 15,000 nursing homes across the United States. Older adults in nursing homes often have cognitive, mental or functional impairments that make it difficult to complete day-to-day tasks. A landmark study published by the Institute of Medicine in the late 1980s cited the urgent need for better regulatory standards in nursing homes to accommodate a growing older adult population. More recent reports have highlighted recurring problems in the U.S. like low staffing and reports of elder abuse, which contribute to poor health outcomes such as depression among nursing home residents.

The costs of low-quality care in nursing homes can be staggering. Preventable conditions such as falls and pressure ulcers cost billions of dollars to treat annually. Quality nursing home practices can help prevent adverse health outcomes and save money.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) added the Five-Star Quality Rating System to Nursing Home Compare in 2008. More stars indicate the nursing home is rated higher in quality. The ratings are a composite score based on health inspections, quality of resident care and overall staffing. The public ratings are intended to encourage nursing homes to achieve higher quality.

  • U.S. HHS, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Care Compare, Dec 2017 - Feb 2018

Poverty, 2018 Senior Report
Measure: Poverty - Ages 65+, 2018 Senior Report

Why does this matter?

Poverty is associated with poor health outcomes. It influences environmental exposures and health-related behaviors and increases the risk of chronic disease and mortality. Among older adults, poverty is linked to an increased risk of disability, physical and cognitive decline and homelessness

Many older adults subsist on limited incomes and modest savings that restrict their ability to afford basic medical care. Further, 63% of adults ages 65 and older have at least two chronic conditions, leading to increased out-of-pocket expenses. 

The official poverty measure is only one measure of poverty. The Supplemental Poverty Estimate, introduced in 2011, is another measure of poverty that adjusts for government programs related to food, housing and utilities as well as other expenses such as taxes and out-of-pocket medical expenses.

  • U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2016

Volunteerism*, 2018 Senior Report
  • Corporation for National & Community Service, 2013-2015

*The data appearing in this edition are the same that appeared in the 2017 edition. A data update was not available at the time of this publication.

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