Nutrition push for seniors

Emeritus at Marietta is celebrating National Nutrition Month by helping to serve 10,000 meals in 60 days to senior citizens in need.

The goal of 10,000 meals is a joint effort between all of the 470 Emeritus communities throughout 44 states.

Seniors having meals delivered are nominated by others to Emeritus.

“This is the first year that our organization will be doing this,” said Mindy Geese, community relations director of the Emeritus at Marietta assisted living facility. “This is something that is important to our organization and we figured what better time to do this.”

The number of older adults living on their own across the nation who are malnourished is in the hundreds of thousands, according to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Aging.

Seniors who are malnourished face the possibility of symptoms that include a weakened immune system, weight loss, less energy and are hospitalized more frequently than those with a proper diet.

Seniors who are at most risk for nutritional deficiencies generally have a fixed income or are physically unable to prepare their own food.

Geese said the 10,000 meals program falls in line with Emeritus’s Safely Somewhere program.

“The program aims to keep all seniors cared for in a safe environment,” she said. “Regardless of if they live with us, in a nursing home or live at home they deserve to be safe.”

The only stipulation is that the recipient is 65 or older, there are no income based requirements to be eligible for a meal.

These types of services are provided all year by Emeritus, but this is just an opportunity to do even more, according to Geese.

“We visit seniors to spend time and talk with them, take them food, check in to make sure they are doing OK,” she said. “We aren’t trying to market ourselves. We just want to make sure that our seniors are being taken care of and nutrition month is a good time to highlight that.”

Seniors who count toward the meal total include any who are fed outside of an Emeritus location, according to Geese.

The menu that is available for seniors to choose from is restaurant style and offers several choices.

“We have a special of the day that is a complete meal like a chicken or roast beef with the appropriate accompaniments,” said Lynne George, dining services director at Emeritus at Marietta. “We also have an a la carte menu that they may order off of in case they don’t like the special.”

Items on the a la carte menu include a wide range of seasonal foods, some of which include burgers, soups and salads.

“We want them to have a good healthy meal, but we also want it to look and taste good so they will eat it,” said George.

Georgia Wyckoff has been a resident of Emeritus at Marietta for 15 months and said she thinks they do a wonderful job of providing nutritious foods.

“I have been very pleased with the food. I’ve remained a constant weight since I’ve been here,” she said. “There has been a very good variety in what I’ve had to eat and I almost always enjoy it.”

Since the program kicked off at the beginning of March, Geese said Emeritus has served some seniors but not as many as she had hoped.

“We know there is a great need for this in the community,” said Geese. “We hope that moving forward more will be able to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The total number of seniors served for all of the locations would take a few days to calculate, because there are so many sites to collaborate with, according to Mary Beth Dagg, the public relations manager for the Emeritus corporate office in Seattle.

Geese said that anyone who knows of a senior who is having trouble getting meals or with their nutrition should let them know.

“All you have to do is call us and say you want to nominate a senior and we will take it from there,” she said.

Anyone with information regarding seniors who require this service are encouraged to contact Emeritus at Marietta at (740) 373-9600.