A remarkable increase in the aging population all over the world poses various challenges for the elderly ranging from higher requirements of health, medical care, and social security. This dramatic shift has adverse effects on the age structure of most of the countries globally. It is the fact that, as people age, older primary care or assistance becomes necessary.
It is no surprise that the world population is aging drastically. With modern technology advancements, education, nutrition, and healthcare amenities, people all over the world are living longer. The proportion of the world’s population aged 60 years and older is expected to be 2 billion by 2050 (In 2015, it was 900 million). And as per the UN data, the older population of Asia, Europe, and America are expected to proliferate by 2030. To understand the world population is aging at an unprecedented rate, aggregating here the data of America as shown in below table:
We can see that the population in the USA is getting older at a fast pace. And this rise is inevitable. At this aging stage, senior centers serve as a focal point for the older adult communities to stay healthy, active, happy and live independently.
Other Facts About Older Adults
- Today’s older adults are more diverse than previous generations.
- They prefer to stay at home and restrict themselves by eating proper nutritious food and lose their desire for food. Few of them do not leave their homes due to fear or weaknesses. Their geographical world starts shrinking gradually.
- Usually, they lose their ability to live independently due to fear, lack of mobility, and reduced physical activities.
- Lonely people are more likely to report risky health behaviors. Their lives become vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness; which results in chronic health issues like depression, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, visual, and hearing impairment.
Here, Nutrition Sites Come Into The Picture
To meet the comprehensive needs of the older adults at their aging stage. They encourage older adults to remain social with other community members. Nutrition Sites are nothing but a resource for the entire older community to develop a social support system as well as empower them by developing a positive environment. They play a vital role in helping the elderly to provide a nutritious meal, encourage social networks, and live happily.
“The sole purpose of senior meal centers is to provide nutritious value accompanied by social enrichment which builds up seniors’ feelings of self-worth at their aging stage.”
Nutrition sites are a common platform for all individuals above the age of 60 to have an active, healthy, social, and independent life. Senior citizens visit nearby nutrition sites as individuals or in a group to enjoy meals along with other social recreational activities. Nutrition Sites are also known as Senior Centers, Senior Meal Centers or Congregate Meal Sites. They can be considered as an ideal community center to connect and engage the older adults for their well-being.
Senior Centers Offer
- Resources to improve senior citizens’ health and wellness
- Opportunities to connect with older adult community members
- Environment to develop a positive attitude towards life
These centers are recognized by the Older Americans Act (OAA) as a community focal point to promote the well-being of senior citizens. There are well-established standards and programs administered by the Administration on Aging (AOA) to run nutrition sites successfully. It is the principal agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services, ensuring older Americans can stay independently in their communities. AOA administers the following nutrition programs:
1 The Congregate Nutrition Services Program
This is an interactive program for older adults to engage with other community members while having nutritious meals at the centers. Healthy food and companionship with others make the seniors active, stress-free, and happy.
2 The Home-Delivered Nutrition Services Program
This program is also known as “Meals on Wheels” program. It delivers wholesome meals to older adults at their homes who are unable to prepare healthy foods due to various aging reasons like illness or physical disabilities.
3 Nutrition Services Incentive Program
This program provides funds to the states and US territories to cover the costs of food commodities to the nutrition sites.
4 Nutrition-Related Services
such as nutrition education and screening, nutrition assessment, counseling, informative workshops on health and food.
5 Other Supportive Multi-Purpose Services
- Senior transportation services
- Legal services to assist seniors in various legal issues related to the public entitlement, legal aid, government benefits, health law.
- Social, recreational activities like arts and crafts, games, music, and dance
- Volunteer and other fundraising activities
As per the National Council on Ageing, there are 10000 senior centers in the USA serving more than 1 million older adults every day. 75% of participants visit their centers 1 or 3 times a week, and they spend 3.3 hours a day at the centers. More than 60% of the senior centers offer multi-purpose services to the participants apart from Congregate Meal services.
Nutrition sites primarily focus on the six elements of wellness addressing the variety of needs in the diverse older communities
Senior centers are providing a platform for older adults to do what they want at their aging stage. They respond to older adults’ diverse needs and encourage them to stay healthy and live happily, although they have to deal with a few problems that affect their well-being.
Problems Faced By Nutrition Sites
- Lesser interaction with the other individuals
- Less attendance of the participants at the sites
- Lack of affordable and reliable mobility options
- A little involvement of participants in the activities
- Limited marketing and promotional efforts
- Administrative problems – management & staffing
That’s why it becomes necessary to address the needs and problems of diverse communities that require cutting-edge technology solutions. We all know that technology has transformed the world and constituted a global place for everyone. Technology can influence the operational efficiency of any entity or industry. It has a wide range of tools, techniques, and resources for any problem. If we consider one of the issues, from the list mentioned above, technology can easily eradicate the problem associated with nutrition site transportation services for the elderly by implementing mobility solutions. So let us have a look on various cutting-edge transportation options to make seniors’ transport seamless:
Senior-Friendly Taxi and Cab ServiceNutrition sites can implement a custom-fit taxi app solutions for seniors to make their commute easy and hassle-free. Seniors have to schedule a ride between locations of their choice. Trips are charged per-miles or per-minute basis or as per nutrition site transportation program for the elderly.
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Service (NEMT)To make senior citizens’ transportation to and from non-emergency healthcare appointments and services smooth, site owners can integrate customized non-medical emergency services. So that seniors can use apps to schedule rides to the hospital or any other medical appointments at their comfort.
Home-based Food Delivery Services for elderlyNutrition sites can provide nutrition services for seniors at their homes through advanced food delivery apps. Those who can not visit nutrition frequently or can not prepare nutritious food at their home can get wholesome meals as per their needs at their place.
Fleet Tracking SolutionNutrition sites can track the routes, real-time location, and activities of the drivers through a fleet tracking app to make seniors’ transit safe and secure. They can also get fleet alerts as well as reports of routes, distance covered, and time taken to travel.
So How Transportation Technology Benefits Nutrition Sites
i) Fulfillment And Independence
Independent life depends upon the ability to perform daily routine tasks on their own. Nutrition sites can help older adult community members to live independently by integrating transportation technology solutions such as providing smartphone apps for transportation purpose and home-based food delivery service, building confidence among the seniors to live independently.
ii) Promote Safety And Security
Many seniors find the individualized service, provided by the nutrition sites more appropriate and safer for transportation, as few seniors may feel uncomfortable to get into any strangers’ car. Thus, customized technology solutions of senior sites facilitate the sense of safety and security among the senior citizens to travel from one place to another.
iii) Efficient Transportation
Comprehensive transportation services for the seniors let them venture out on their own. Tech-based transportation solutions make seniors travel from one place to another hassle-free, helping them live quality lives. These digital solutions enable seniors to book a taxi either for medical assistance or to visit a nutrition site at their own on a click of a button. Efficient transportation opportunity allows seniors to access their primary and essential activities.
iv) Social Connectivity & Empowerment
Senior nutrition sites create opportunities for social connection with other older adult community members. Various tech-based social communication platforms enable the members to connect directly with each other and share center activities and engage with each other via offline center activities and online social platforms. The social connectedness improves mental health, reduces loneliness and encourages the feeling of self-worth.
v) Maintain Health And Wellness
Digital transportation solutions for seniors help them to live independently as per their needs. These enable them to make new friends, developing relationships, and involving in various center activities at the aging stage helps the seniors to stay active – both mentally and physically. Digital solutions help seniors access healthcare solutions at a click of a button, maintaining their health at the aging stage.
So, digital solutions for well-organized mobility management of nutrition sites can help function effectively and serve the older adult community transportation appropriately. And it gives rise to community sustainability and greater involvement of senior citizens with each other. There are many digital product development companies in the USA, working to help and optimize daily commute of senior citizens by integrating cutting-edge technology solutions across mobile, web and cloud-based platforms. Nutrition sites can make seniors transport safe and secure by implementing various technology-driven solutions like taxi booking app for seniors, NEMT app for elderly medical appointments and food delivery app for seniors to provide healthy meals either for free or at lower rates to the seniors.
Time to help and smoothen the process of transportation for the aging population to let them live a quality life and encourage them to stay active in various activities happening at the nutrition sites! Today’s advanced senior meal centers strive to serve as a benchmark to meet the needs of the seniors by developing new programs and activities. Hence, well-organized centers help senior citizens to improve their physical, social, emotional and mental well-being.
Shailendra Sinhasane (Shail) is the co-founder and CEO of Mobisoft Infotech. He has been focused on cloud solutions, mobile strategy, cross-platform development, IoT innovations and advising healthcare startups in building scalable products.