Getting the right amount of nutrition is important at any age. But, it is especially crucial for older adults who want to remain independent and active in their homes.
For many aging Americans, getting enough nutritious foods is not easy due to a lack of funds, transportation options, or the physical ability to shop and prepare meals. When a person cannot access sufficient nutrition, they cannot live a full, healthy life.
There are a number of reasons seniors struggle to get an adequate amount of nutrition. That is why the National Council on Aging developed a program called SNAP to help individuals gain access to nutritious foods in their communities.
What is SNAP?
NCOA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is the nation’s largest federal nutrition program. SNAP helps low-income individuals and families access healthy food items to improve food security and nutrition.
With nearly 4.7 million adults age 60 and older are enrolled in SNAP, many seniors benefit from nutritious foods available through the program.
But, many older Americans do not take advantage of the benefits they are entitled to. Only two out of five eligible adults over 60 are enrolled. That means 60% of eligible seniors are missing out.
How SNAP promotes healthy aging
SNAP is a valuable resource to help seniors get a sufficient amount of nutrition in their diets. Here are six ways SNAP promotes healthy aging.
It improves food security
Food insecurity increases the risk of unfavorable health outcomes. By using the SNAP program, seniors become more food secure and avoid adverse health issues.
Having an appropriate amount of nutrition helps people manage chronic illnesses. On the other hand, not getting enough healthy foods can lead to higher complications for an individual with a chronic disease.
It frees up funds for health-related costs
SNAP also frees up funds that can be used towards healthcare costs. When it comes to managing a tight budget, some seniors may find themselves having to choose between buying food and medications. SNAP helps people bridge financial gaps and stretch their dollar further.
It reduces the need for medical care
Poor nutrition has devastating effects on a person’s overall health. By providing sufficient nutrition, SNAP helps improve wellness in older adults. Seniors with better health visit the doctor less, experience fewer falls, and live independently at home longer.
It improves long-term health
SNAP participants are more likely to have excellent or very good health than those who do not participate in the program. SNAP helps low-income seniors live independently in their communities and avoid institutionalization.
It reduces health-related costs
Just as SNAP promotes health, the food assistance program can also reduce the cost of healthcare for many individuals. On average, low-income adults enrolled in SNAP incur nearly 25% less in medical costs in a year compared to low-income non-participants. The difference is even greater for those with chronic illnesses, such as coronary heart disease.
It provides seniors with more food options
SNAP can be used on a variety of healthy foods found in grocery stores and farmers’ markets. Because the program offsets the cost of food, seniors have more options when shopping. Seniors can tailor healthy meals to their tastes, explore new recipes, and share different meals with friends and family. These experiences promote positive mental health and improve morale.
How to enroll in SNAP
If you think you might be eligible for SNAP, it’s worth checking through your county’s Department of Job and Family Services, which administers the program in Ohio. Call 844-640-6446 to be directed to the appropriate office for your location. SNAP Enrollment is simple and can be done over the phone.
To get SNAP benefits, you must meet some criteria. If you are 60 or older, you need to meet the net income limit. If you are eligible, you can receive a minimum of about $15 per month. Depending on certain factors, you may receive more SNAP benefits. The application process will tell you how much you can receive.
We want to make sure that no senior faces food insecurity. If you or someone you know could use help getting nutritious meals, Meals on Wheels might be just what you need to stay healthy at home.
Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio provides home-delivered meals and wellness checks to seniors and people with disabilities in Stark, Summit, and Wayne Counties (Ohio). Call us today at 330-515-5605 to try delicious meals delivered right to your door.