After her stroke, a 95-year-old woman in New York State found that she could no longer taste her food. She was also unable to feel hunger, so she didn’t know when she was supposed to eat. As a result, the woman began losing weight, grew weak and wasn’t getting the nutrients she needed.
Enter Meals on Wheels, a national home-delivered meals program established by the 1965 Older Americans Act. The woman (who asked that her name not be used) began receiving meals at her home five days a week. This, she says, helped her remember to eat regularly. Her weight improved, and so did her general health.
Malnutrition like hers is surprisingly common. Six percent of the elderly who live at home in the United States and in other developed countries are malnourished, according to a 2010 studyin the Journal of the American Geriatric Society. The rate of elder malnutrition doubles among those in nursing homes, where it is 14 percent, according to the same study.