Seniors face a myriad of difficulties as they age. Health issues increase while functional impairments may interfere with the maintenance of good nutrition. Seniors are at increased risk of medication related nutritional deficiencies due to the number of prescription drugs they take. Studies show that certain medications (whether over-the-counter or prescription) can reduce appetite, cause nausea, or make food taste differently. If a senior doesn’t feel hungry due to medication side effects, they are less likely to eat and consume the needed calories to maintain health. Many medications must be taken with food to be effective. At Primeplus we recognize these issues and address them through our nutrition program as well as through diet and nutrition educational workshops.
Primeplus has identified nutrition as a priority to healthy aging. To address hunger in the senior population we serve over 1,000 hot, home-cooked meals are provided to seniors every month. Additionally, we offer wellness education and assist our seniors with transportation needs to assure they can gain access to the food they need.
Our menu is designed to meet the dietary needs of seniors and is based on guidelines provided by the Virginia Department for Aging and the Older Americans Act. For many seniors, the home-cooked meals they receive at Primeplus are the only hot meals they eat each day.
Financial limitations are also a problem for many older adults; seniors with limited or fixed incomes are also at increased risk of nutritional deficiencies. Due to lack of adequate financial resources, older adults may reduce grocery expenses by purchasing cheaper and less-nutritious foods to stretch their budget, or elect to skip meals altogether. Lacking money to pay for adequate foods can result in a host of nutrition problems. Within a 5 mile radius of our facility 2,410 seniors live at or below the Federal poverty level, (as defined by HUD guidelines.) Additionally, 1 in 54 Virginians deal with issues of hunger and improper nutrition on a regular basis. For seniors that number is 1 in 4, (according to the US Department of Agriculture.)
The Primeplus nutrition program offers freshly prepared meals on an income based suggested donation, thus providing healthy, home-cooked meals with an emphasis on low to moderate income seniors. These donations are confidential, allowing seniors to determine the amount they are able to afford at each meal and if necessary, to adjust their donation to accommodate their budget limitations. No senior is ever turned away because of their inability to pay and several meals are provided free of charge each day.
Having access to transportation is imperative to seniors’ health and well-being and also affects diet and nutrition. In Hampton Roads, more than one in five individuals aged 65 and older no longer drives due to health or other reasons. Over half who don’t drive as a result of health issues stay home because they lack transportation options. Research shows older adults make 59% fewer shopping trips and visits to restaurants and 65% fewer trips for social and family visits as they age. Seniors without transportation options are at increased risk of isolation and institutionalization in a nursing home. Seniors who rely on public transportation typically must adjust their shopping habits by limiting the amount of groceries they purchase and begin to eat less. At Primeplus we help seniors connect to the resources in the community that help them regain the mobility they had in their younger days. We will arrange the transportation to meet the needs of the seniors through available resources and if needed, we have a grant of funds from TowneBank to provide Uber rides for those in need.