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M.L. Johnson, S.E. Walsh

J Frailty Aging 2023;12(1)67-70

Diabetes is an increasingly common and costly condition for older adults. Each year, as many as 1 in 3 Medicare dollars is spent to treat and manage diabetes and associated comorbidities for people with diabetes. To control health care spending in the US, it is imperative that we identify factors for reducing hospitalizations for these individuals. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to identify predictors of hospitalization in the past 12 months for community-dwelling older adults with diabetes. Data from round five of the National Health and Aging Trends Study were analyzed to assess the impact of food assistance programs on the risk of hospitalization in the past 12 months for 1094 Medicare recipients ages 65 and older with diabetes. Previous research on the social determinants of health has demonstrated that social stressors like poverty and exposure to racism are associated with poorer health outcomes overall, but we did not find a statistically-significant association between race, gender, age or Medicare/ Medicaid dual-eligibility and hospitalization for our study population. Notably, receipt of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Meals on Wheels services or other food assistance was associated with a 43% reduction in the risk of hospitalization in the past 12 months. Food assistance programs appear to be a promising strategy for reducing hospitalizations associated with diabetes and its comorbidities. Primary care providers, diabetes educators and other health professionals should be more proactive in their referrals to food assistance programs and other community supports.

M.L. Johnson ; S.E. Walsh (2022): Food Assistance Programs and Reduced Hospitalizations for Older Adults with Diabetes. The Journal of Frailty and Aging (JFA). http://dx.doi.org/10.14283/jfa.2022.13

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