Senior Nutrition

Mar 29, 2019

Eating well is important, especially for seniors since nutritional needs change as we age. Unfortunately, many seniors do not eat as well as they should, which can lead to malnutrition. SeniorCare’s Meals on Wheels home delivered meals and community dining rooms help to address the difficulties many seniors face in maintaining a nutritious diet. In addition, nutrition programs help alleviate isolation and loneliness issues faced by many seniors.

Each year, SeniorCare’s Nutrition Department sends out a survey to our seniors who receive Meals on Wheels home delivered lunches or attend one of the community dining rooms that serve lunch throughout SeniorCare’s service area (Beverly, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester by the Sea, Rockport, Topsfield, and Wenham). The information received from this survey helps SeniorCare understand the needs of our clientele better. Survey results are sent to the Massachusetts Office of Elder Affairs in order to review state-wide nutrition needs for the elder community, and how well the Massachusetts Elderly Nutrition Program is meeting those needs.

Here are a few results from the SeniorCare 2018 Nutrition survey:

  • 47% of the surveys sent out to SeniorCare nutrition program participants were returned.
  • Of the surveys returned, 50% have participated in the Nutrition program less than three years and 48% have participated more than three years.
  • 42% of the respondents are sixty to seventy-nine years old, 39% are in their eighties, and 18% are ninety years or older.  
  • 70% of the home delivered recipients receive five meals each week, while 12% receive fewer than five per week. 16% receive additional meals to assist them beyond the lunch time meal on weekdays.
  • 67% of community dining participants attend one to three meals a week, and 29% attend four or five meals each week.
  • 78% of the respondents rated the overall quality of the meals they receive as “good” or “excellent.”
  • 60% reported that these meals constitute the “main meal of their day,” and 71% believe that receiving these meals helps them to continue living independently.

The meals provided daily through the Meals on Wheels home delivered meals program and the community dining rooms are varied throughout the month. Looking at the March 2019 menu, meals included a special corned beef boiled dinner for St. Patrick’s Day, BBQ pulled pork, lasagna, and shepherd’s pie. The meals are developed with the nutritional needs of seniors in mind. Each meal includes nutritional information (calorie and sodium counts), and special meals are available for individuals with specific dietary needs (diabetes, heart disease, allergies, etc.).

Isolation and loneliness are significant issues for the senior community. Studies have shown loneliness to be a health hazard comparable to more traditionally recognized risk factors such as smoking and obesity.  86% of the Meals on Wheels recipients reported that they feel less lonely due to their daily interaction with their Meals on Wheels driver, and 91% reported a “good” or “excellent” experience with their driver. 93% of the seniors who eat at the community dining facilities reported feeling less lonely.

SeniorCare dining programs—both Meals on Wheels and community dining—are available to people aged 60 and above and their spouses. There are no income requirements for either program. For information on how to participate, please contact SeniorCare’s Nutrition Department at 978-281-1750 or go to

Volunteers are always needed to deliver Meals on Wheels or help at the community dining sites. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact SeniorCare’s RSVP Volunteer program at 978-281-1750.

One of our Meals on Wheels recipients included this note with their survey. “I am unable to cook anymore. Without the daily meals I would surely be in poor shape nutritionally, not to mention hungry. Lately the meals have been exceptionally delicious. Keep up the good work! Thank you.”