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Utilizing Technology to Support Senior Nutrition: A Perspective on Nutrition and Aging

8/31/12 By David Lindeman

Summary

There are many facets of senior nutrition that can benefit from the use of information and communication technologies. Technology offers the means to increase access to and improve the effectiveness of senior nutrition programs; enhance communication between providers, family caregivers, and older adults concerning good nutrition; and empower older adults to better manage their own nutrition and health. Factoring in the rapid growth of connected health technologies, such as mobile health, remote monitoring, sensors, and social networking, technology is already playing a central role in the fabric of senior nutrition programs in the US. And as these connected health technologies become increasingly efficacious and affordable, they will increase the speed of adoption and integration of senior nutrition programs into the health and social service continuum. It is important to note that while technology is playing an ever greater role in improving senior nutrition, technology in itself is not a solution to the problem of poor senior nutrition – technology is only a tool to assist senior nutrition program staff in improving the nutritional health and well-being of older adults. Applications of technology to senior nutrition are further explored in in the article “Leveraging Technology to Improve Senior Nutrition” published in the Meals on Wheels Research Foundation journal, Seniority: Perspectives on Nutrition, Healthcare, Wellness.

The 2012 Meals on Wheels Association of America National Summit brought together a broad array of individuals and organizations from across the country to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the inclusion of nutrition programs in the Older Americans Act. Under the auspices of the Administration on Aging’s National Resource Center on Nutrition and Aging, the summit provided an opportunity to view how technology and other program innovations are closing the critical link between nutrition and health in a rapidly aging nation.  As part of a panel exploring Perspectives on Aging - Critical Trends in a Changing World, the Technology and Nutrition presentation discusses several examples of how technology is contributing to the improvement of nutrition for older adults, the barriers to its use, and specific strategies to maximize the benefits of technology.

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