Home-delivered meals

Citation: Walsh, S. E., Weaver, F. M., & Chubinski, J. (2024). Meals On Wheels Clients: Measurable Differences In The Likelihood Of Aging In Place Or Being Hospitalized. Health affairs (Project Hope), 43(3), 408–415. https://doi.org/10.1377/hlthaff.2023.00822

  • Peer Reviewed Article

Little is known about how participation in home-delivered meal programs (known as Meals on Wheels), financed in part through the Older Americans Act, relates to the use of health services and the ability to age in place for elder Medicare beneficiaries. Using 2013–20 data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study, we evaluated the relationship between Meals on Wheels use and two outcomes—likelihood of continued community residence and risk for hospitalization—in the following year for Medicare beneficiaries ages sixty-five and older, overall and by gender, race, Medicaid enrollment, and frailty. Overall, Meals on Wheels users and nonusers were equally likely to still reside in the community one year later; however, continued community residence was more likely among users than nonusers who were Black, were enrolled in Medicaid, or were frail. Program use was marginally associated with increased likelihood of hospitalization in the following year overall, but more strongly so among frail users. Our findings are consistent with the heterogeneity of Medicare-age Meals on Wheels users nationwide and suggest that program benefits differ among specific populations.