Senior Citizen Care: Combating Elder Malnutrition

Affordable Home Care, Elder Care in Minnesota, Elderly Home Assistance, Respite for Caregivers, In-Home Care Minneapolis, Home Care Services for Seniors, Taking Care of Elderly Parents, Senior Home AssistanceWhen my client “Beatrice” was evaluated after a fall in her apartment, she was told that her fall and her subsequent fracture were because she was malnourished.  She has since had to be maintained in an assisted living situation.  I’m sure you’re thinking, “How can someone be malnourished in this day and age when we are surrounded by cheap and fast food everywhere?”

As with many of the clients for whom we provide elderly home care service, Beatrice lived totally on her Social Security income.  She paid one third of her income for her small, subsidized apartment, and the rest of her money went for utilities and other necessities.  There was nothing left over for discretionary spending.  She was purchasing frozen dinners because of their ease of preparation, and, even though the top of her refrigerator was stocked and she was eating regularly, she was just not getting enough vitamins and nutrients to maintain her body weight or her health.

I’m sure you have heard that many low income seniors have to make tough choices of how to spend the little money they have.  Sometimes it really does come down to purchasing medications or purchasing healthy food.

What many seniors don’t realize is that there is no need to go hungry and no need to eat food that doesn’t give good nutritional support to their bodies.  According to Minnesota News in the latest edition of the AARP magazine, many seniors are unaware of the food assistance they most likely would be eligible for.

For those 60 and older who have an income of less than $1498 per month for a one-person household, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) monthly benefits range from $16 to $80.  The state of Minnesota has recently made some changes to clear up misconceptions and to try to reduce the stigma most people feel when applying for assistance, in addition to making the process a bit more user-friendly and accessible.

While $16 to $80 per month for food doesn’t sound like much, with other resources, it may be enough to make a difference in the quality of food purchased and, therefore, help to make a positive impact on a person’s overall health as well as their ability to stay living in their own homes or apartments.  With other available resources, such as Meals on Wheels, Mom’s Meals, food shelves, generous neighbors or friends, and maybe with help for meal preparation from an in-home senior care provider, overall quality of life can definitely be improved.

Julie Ellingson, LSW

May 8, 2012

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