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`Meals on Wheels` cuts loneliness

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Washington: According to a new study, home-delivered meals may be providing more than food security. They reduce loneliness.

When Congress passed the Older Americans Act in 1965 to support elderly people who were struggling, often alone, to continue to live at home, a major plank of the legislation provided for home delivery of meals to ensure their adequate nutrition.

In the midst of the holiday season, a newly published study confirms another benefit of visitors regularly knocking on the doors of seniors in need: a significant reduction in their feelings of loneliness.

This continues to build the body of evidence that home-delivered meals provide more than nutrition and food security, said lead author Kali Thomas from Brown University School of Public.

The study is one of few to rigorously examine the long-presumed psychological benefits of home-delivered meal service, Thomas said. She believes it is the first randomized, controlled trial to assess the effect on loneliness, which has been linked by many studies to a greater risk for medical problems, emergency department visits, and nursing home placement.

Thomas said she hopes the study results will be useful as policymakers continue to evaluate the budget and structure of public and private programs that serve the elderly in their homes.

“In a time when resources are being further constrained and demand is increasing, it is important that we have evidence that guides decision-making in terms of what services to provide and how best to provide them,” Thomas said.

The results appear online in the Journals of Gerontology: Series B. (ANI)