With California’s senior population expected to grow by four million people through 2030, we need to do more to ensure that seniors get the proper nutrition and other community-based supportive services they need to stay healthy as they age and to prevent costly health complications.
Isolation, depression, poor oral health, chronic illness, loss of taste, food insecurity, lack of transportation and difficulty walking can lead to malnutrition in seniors, which severely impacts their ability to fight illness and infection, and can result in higher mortality rates and loss of independence.
Through a combination of applied medical research, supportive policy, effective advocacy and outcomes-based philanthropy, West Health is working to create and foster new integrated care models that improve health outcomes and better address both the medical and non-medical needs of seniors and their families. Our Gary and Mary West Health Institute, Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center and Gary and Mary West Foundation all work together under the umbrella of West Health with a shared mission to enable successful aging for our nation’s seniors.
West Health is conducting the following research initiatives, among others, focused on malnutrition:
In 2016, researchers at the West Health Institute, Meals on Wheels America and Brown University Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research began collaborating on a two-year project that investigated how the general health, safety and well-being of homebound seniors could be improved by integrating nutritional, health and safety monitoring into daily meal-delivery services, and by connecting seniors with the appropriate services and support they needed to mitigate risk for loss of independence. Meals on Wheels San Diego is one of two pilot sites where this research is currently being conducted.
Since 2009, Serving Seniors’ nonprofit Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center in San Diego has been providing local seniors with a place to connect with other seniors and to receive wellness services, including nutrition and health education, nurse case management, psychiatric nurses, support groups and free legal assistance and counseling related to Medicare and Medicaid.
1. The Malnutrition Quality Collaborative. National Blueprint: Achieving Quality Malnutrition Care for Older Adults. Washington, DC: Avalere and Defeat Malnutrition Today. March 2017.
2. The Malnutrition Quality Collaborative, Infographic: National Blueprint: Achieving Quality Malnutrition Care for Older Adults. Washington, DC: Avalere and Defeat Malnutrition Today. March 2017.
3. Blancato, Robert B. “Senior Malnutrition: A National Nutrition Crisis.” Huffington Post, 10 May 2015, www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-b-blancato/senior-malnutrition-a-nat_b_6832238.html