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Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior: Food and Nutrition Programs for Community-Residing Older Adults

      Abstract

      Given the increasing number and diversity of older adults and the transformation of health care services in the United States, it is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior that all older adults should have access to evidence-based food and nutrition programs that ensure the availability of safe and adequate food to promote optimal nutrition, health, functionality, and quality of life. Registered dietitian nutritionists and nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered, in partnership with other practitioners and nutrition educators, should be actively involved in programs that provide coordinated services between the community and health care systems that include regular monitoring and evaluation of programming outcomes. The rapidly growing older population, increased demand for integrated continuous support systems, and rising cost of health care underscore the need for these programs. Programs must include food assistance and meal programs, nutritional screening and assessment, nutrition education, medical nutrition therapy, monitoring, evaluation, and documentation of evidence-based outcomes. Coordination with long-term care services and support systems is necessary to allow older adults to remain in their homes; improve or maintain their health and manage chronic disease; better navigate transitions of care; and reduce avoidable hospital, acute, or long-term care facility admissions. Funding of these programs requires evidence of their effectiveness, especially regarding health, functionality, and health care–related outcomes of interest to individuals, caregivers, payers, and policy makers. Targeting of food and nutrition programs involves addressing unmet needs for services, particularly among those at high risk for poor nutrition. Registered dietitian nutritionists and nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered must increase programmatic efforts to measure outcomes to evaluate community-based food and nutrition services.
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