The silent health epidemic affecting older Australians

This week, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Safety and Quality turns its attention to the importance of nutrition. 

Meals on Wheels Australia believes that increased community awareness of the importance of good nutrition for older people and making it easier and more affordable for people to access and receive community nutrition services, would greatly improve the health and well-being of older Australians. 

“Malnutrition in older people is a silent health epidemic,” President of Meals on Wheels Australia, Sharyn Broer, said.

“Around 40 per cent of older people living in the community are either malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. That’s one million Australians whose health and quality of life is affected.

“Malnutrition in older people is both preventable and treatable. It is not a natural consequence of older age. However, older Australians are poorly informed about their changing nutrition requirements and there is limited community awareness.”

Eating well helps people to age well.

Each year, more than 100,000 older Australians are supported to eat well by delivered meal programs such as Meals on Wheels, which is a proven, effective solution that provides benefits to the consumer, health and aged care systems.

National Meal Guidelines developed by Meals on Wheels Australia are specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of older people.

“Changes to community aged care policy and funding over the past decade have made it more difficult for malnourished older Australians to receive the supports they need,” Ms Broer said. 

“The Commonwealth Home Support Programme provides funding intended to help older people receive affordable meal services, but the level of funding is not keeping up with rising costs. 

“Many Meals on Wheels services are gravely concerned about their continued viability while they struggle to cap the payments made by consumers, who contribute at least half of the cost of operating the service.”

Complicated eligibility and needs assessments are also making things more difficult. 

“Meals on Wheels Australia is calling on the Australian Government to entitle all Australians aged 80 years and over to directly access meal support services, with the consumer’s contribution limited to the cost of the ingredients,” Ms Broer said.

“This would create an equitable national service system on par with services provided to Home Care Package and National Disability Insurance Scheme participants.”

What is your diet like? Are you worried about malnutrition as you age?



Gotta admit, I like a burger and fries sometimes and one of those little apple pies from Maccas. My wife is a stickler for healthy food so she keeps me on the straight and narrow at home. 

I was only saying to my eldest son yesterday, "When was the last time you had a Maccas"? he said he couldn't remember maybe 6 years ago. I remember when the boys were young and Maccas was the highlight of the week, we used to go there every Friday after school, as a treat.

...have never eat at McDonalds  foodand only twice at Kentucky fried chicken...had their nuggets...never again.  prefer home matter how humble

My mother used to be on Meals on Wheels for a short while but the meals were appaling would not feed the cooked food to your pig.

Fortunately they did have salads available which was OK in summer, and after that she came to live with me.

Hopefully Meals on Wheels have improved their cooking skills since our experience

"to entitle all Australians aged 80 years and over to directly access meal support services, with the consumer’s contribution limited to the cost of the ingredients"  sounds like a good idea as it would enable all older people to live at home longer.

As far as Maccas is concerned ... they also do supply healthymeals is people choose to order the unhealthy ones.

My dear Mother had Meals on Wheels for about 3 months, she hated their food. She was supposed to leave a container out on the front porch if she wasn't home, and when I got her home, after a Doctor's appointment, it had melted and the ants had got to it. We cancelled the food after that. 


My local Meals on Wheels will not leave food outside! they insist on bringing it into the home.

I don't use them now; being the first on the delivery route it did not suit my sleeping arrangements  :-(

Hi Sen.Cit.90 - I must admit they did bring the food inside when she was at home, but on the odd occasion she wasn't home they left it in the container she provided. Winter was okay but in Summer it was awful.

I was appalled to read the other day Meals on Wheels say the service is under threat with some branches surviving on bequests from past clients as the Federal Government fails to increase funding for the service.

Nutrition is the key and when will governments understand if people are reasonably healthy as they actually helps the health system. Less money  spent on drugs and hospital stays and a happier society.

We need to take better care of our elderly and the wonderful volunteers who keep this service running. They are angels.

..unfortunately good intentions cost money and volunteers...sadly both are getting scarce

And the $150 billion dollars that has been given to the fat cats won’t have made it any easier.

The Government does increase funding each year, Sophie, the Meals on Wheels group is financed by the Government's Commonwealth Home Support Program and rises with indexation each and every year. One could argue that the indexation figures don't reflect actual cost increases but that is for another time. In our local area, the problem is not funding but finding volunteers to prepare and deliver the meals.

I find the comment by Triss questionable. Is the figure quoted one that can be proved or has it just been plucked from thin air to discredit the government? I note that it continues on the politics of envy that cost the Labor government the "unlosable" election.


Welfare to the wealthy is not overstated, more likely the other way round. Close all the loopholes and this would cover everything else. Too hard to do? In hoc to the big corporations? OM, the election was given to LNP courtesy of Palmer and Pauline and Adani. And the outrageous lies of a death tax and franking credits to be lost by people who did not even have any. Pensioners were scared sh......! Now, Adani wants the names of the scientists who oppose them in any way and even worse, the deputy PM supports it. I could not be more shocked. 

Fingerprints of journalists is also being sought. Hope you are okay with all this as many of us have some integrity and oppose such moves. 

Meanwhile, our PM waves and rocks in church and advises LOVE. Some, however, are just not feeling the love!


Paddington, what loopholes do you want to be closed? Your broad generalisation adds nothing to the problem. Labor lost the "unlosable" election for a number of reasons; the policy to rob retirees of their franking credits, the policy to stop 80% of investors earning under $80,000pa from using negative gearing to improve themselves, the lies told by Shorten in the southern states that he was opposed to the Carmichael Mine and that he supported it when he was in North Queensland and the working people of Western Sydney who didn't accept Labor's policies.

Palmer's advertisements criticised ALL politicians regardless of whether it was Labor, Liberal, National or Green so how can you ask us to believe that Labor lost because of him. Hanson's One Nation preferences were placed lower in most seats by the Liberals than Labor placed her preferences.

Are journalists above the law? If a police department wants to solve a crime they follow a routine which, in some cases, involves taking fingerprints. There is no section of the community that can claim to have 100% integrity within its ranks. All of this brouhaha has been fed to us by the media which is only promoting one side of the argument and until I hear both sides, I won't rush to judgement.

Australia allows freedom of religion in the Constitution and your comment about our PM is unnecessary. In fact your whole post has 3/4 of 5/8 of bugger all to do with the topic. When will you either accept that Labor lost the election or do what others are threatening and migrate to New Zealand.

I worked as a volenteer for meals on wheels in Adelaide for some time they provided very good meals & delivery was by volenteers also.The problem arose when people were not at home & we couldnt wait or return later so meals were left outside as they were paid for but this didnt happen very often.I felt they provided a very good service.Cheers



It was on the ABCNEWS and Sydney Morning Herald,OM.  Federal government has secured enough cross bench support to pass all three stages to its $158 billion income tax cut plan.  So, no, it was not plucked out of the air by me.


I agree that there is a tax cut which was a policy of the last election, Triss. Where I disagree is your suggestion that it was for "fat cats" when the first part refers to provide immediate further relief to low and middle-income earners for the 2018–19 to the 2021–22 income years. In 2022, there is a further minor change. The change to reduce reducing the 32.5 per cent marginal tax rate for those with taxable incomes between $45,001 to $200,000 to 30 per cent is not until 2024. Where are the "fat cats" in all of these adjustments?

Sad to say Meals on  Wheels are barely nutritious - mum had them for some time and they did

not look appetising, nor varied, and if she was late on the delivery list, they were not too warm either

and we all know that less than warm meals can hold bacteria.

Also I have an aged friend who does not have much appetite these days, and even in a good quality,

aged care facility with excellent meals. finds it hard to eat much - she used to have a healthy appetite.

She is having to have Sustagen to help.   So is it an age or failing health thing.

Had MoW for many years for my brother. The meals were superb and varied. If not at home I left an insulated Esky out and had no trouble.

Sad to hear others had so much trouble.

May need them for me in the not too distant future but will look forward to the excellent food.


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