Current State of Senior Isolation and Hunger
Even the most independent among us, if fortunate to live long enough, may experience a decline in mobility or health that can strip away our independence and diminish the quality of our lives. Great advances in medicine have extended our average life expectancy to a record high of 78.7 years. Living longer means more years spent in the struggles that accompany old age. Add to that the increase in geographic mobility of our families and the result is millions of seniors left behind, hungry and alone.
- 20 percent of all seniors in Texas are at risk of hunger, the sixth highest rate of senior hunger in the nation (Source: The State of Senior Hunger in America 2012).
- Almost 40 percent of Meals on Wheels recipients report needing assistance with one or more of the activities of normal daily living compared with only 6 percent of the total US population, making them more at risk for institutionalization (Source: United States Administration on Aging).
- Nearly 1,050 Texans turn 65 every day... almost 383,000 each year (Source: American Community Survey).
Texas Program Statistics
- There are more than 300 home-delivered meal providers in Texas.
- Estimates are that Meals on Wheels organizations in Texas employ more than 10,000 dedicated Texans and have more than 100,000 committed volunteers. Every day, they deliver meals to approximately 100,000 frail Texans.
Our surveys indicate that the average age of the people helped by Meals on Wheels programs in Texas is 77; more than half live alone; 70 percent are women; more than 50 percent live at or below the federal poverty line, some on as little as $733 or less per month; and so many of those we help are veterans and their spouses, widows, or widowers.
- Funding comes from a range of sources including individuals, corporations, foundations, and various levels of government.
Benefits of Home-Delivered Meal Programs
Without the nutrition and watchful eyes that Meals on Wheels volunteers bring, many could not continue to live at home. Texas Taxpayers pay an average of nearly $41,000 per person per year to maintain elderly and disabled people in state-sponsored nursing homes. In contrast, Meals on Wheels programs in Texas help frail, elderly and disabled homebound people live independently with dignity in their own homes at a tiny fraction of that cost... less than $1,290 per person per year (Source: Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services 2015 Reference Guide).
Home-delivered meals programs also reduce hospitalizations and decrease the length of stay. The Journal of the American Dietetic Association reported: The cost [for Meals on Wheels] to home-deliver a nutritious hot meal to a person every day for one year is less than the cost of spending one day in a hospital. In 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available, the mean hospital stay in the United States for people 65 years old and older was 5.2 days and cost approximately $11,500.
Many Meals on Wheels programs have been shown to reduce malnutrition among the elderly and promote needed weight gain. Home delivered meals provide healthy meals to seniors, keeping them well nourished and providing them with the comfort of knowing when they will receive their next meal (Sources: SeniorServ and Meals on Wheels of Tampa).
In addition to a hot, nutritious meal, the staff and volunteers for home-delivered meal programs provide a needed visit and a friendly smile to those who live alone. This model provides an important daily check on our neighbors to ensure that they continue to live safely in their homes. It also provides some respite from the social isolation that many home-delivered meal recipients face (Source: Meals on Wheels America).
Learn more about the state of seniors in Texas and how Meals on Wheels programs are making a difference. Read the Meals on Wheels America's fact sheet and map on senior hunger, isolation and poverty in Texas.