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Older adults are at risk for malnutrition due to a number of physiological, psychosocial and economic factors. Transition across different kinds of care settings – acute, long-term or home- and community-based – can intensify that risk and open the door to exacerbated negative impacts on older adult health, independence and quality of life. As such, healthcare providers and community food and nutrition programs, like Meals on Wheels, are regularly faced with seeking ways to better integrate malnutrition care into care transitions.



A number of factors contribute to malnutrition in older adults in general, during hospitalization and during transition through myriad care settings – from acute care to long-term care to home- and community-based settings. To better understand these factors, as well as barriers and opportunities to address malnutrition in older adults during such care transitions, Meals on Wheels America commissioned Addressing Malnutrition in Older Adults During Care Transition. This report emerged out of the effort of Meals on Wheels America and the American Hospital Association’s Health Research and Education Trust – with funding from the Aetna Foundation – to develop a partnership between acute care hospitals and community-based Meals on Wheels programs to improve nutritional status among older adults, resulting in reduced non-elective nutrition-related healthcare usage following discharge from the hospital.

Addressing Malnutrition in Older Adults During Care Transition provides insight into areas for improving transition care, recommendations for system improvements and promising practices to better meet the nutritional needs of older adults along the continuum of care. As the population of vulnerable older adults increases, care providers, community food and nutrition programs, policymakers, payers, patients and caregivers can work collectively to improve malnutrition care of older adults. This report seeks to:

  • Summarize current literature describing older adults who are malnourished during and post hospital discharge; 
  • Outline nutrition assessment techniques that can identify, document and treat malnutrition; 
  • Discuss the process for communicating information related to malnutrition through discharge planning and the transition of care process; and
  • Outline promising practices and barriers to providing optimal nutritional care as identified from interviews, surveys and focus groups with current nutrition practitioners from around the country.

Equipped with the learnings within this report, we can raise awareness of the issue of malnutrition in the older adult population and work to ensure that all seniors have their nutrition needs identified and addressed in all care settings.

Download the Full Report

This report is intended to be disseminated freely. In reproducing any excerpts of this report, please provide a credit, such as: “Addressing Malnutrition in Older Adults During Care Transition was prepared by Carlene Russel, MS, RDN, LDN and commissioned by Meals on Wheels America. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of Meals on Wheels America.”