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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

Aging in place

Free meals could help seniors avoid nursing homes

Can providing free meals to seniors in failing health prevent some of them from winding up in nursing homes? That was a thought experiment conducted by Brown University researchers in a paper published online earlier this week in the journal Health Services Research. The researchers found that with all things being equal, the amount of money a state spends on subsidized meals correlates with a reduction in the percentage of relatively healthy seniors in nursing homes.

The researchers examined state expenditure data for subsidized meal delivery programs such as Meals on Wheels and compared it with the percentage of “low-care” nursing home residents -- who don’t use most nursing home services or require much supervised care -- living in more than 16,000 nursing homes nationwide.

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