In our professional geriatric care management assessments, we review a range of areas affecting the person’s health, safety, well-being and quality of life. One area impacting all of these is nutrition. We’d like to share a little more detail about senior nutrition and information gathered in the geriatric assessment in honor of National Nutrition Month.
To read a little more about senior nutrition needs, we invite you to read EasyLiving’s Blog on Health & Senior Nutrition. It is important to note that in addition to changing nutritional needs as we age, numerous health and lifestyle factors affect both nutritional needs and challenges in meeting those needs. Some important considerations in looking at the nutritional needs of a particular elder include diagnoses, chronic conditions especially those such as diabetes and heart disease, medications and activity level.
There are high levels of non-compliance with special diets such as those for diabetes and high blood pressure, but many times this can be improved with better education and home care support. Providing some assistance with meal planning, shopping and preparing foods that fit with the diet can help anyone make such adjustments.
Medications may affect appetite and cause nausea or digestive problems. Some foods are contraindicated with certain medications, such as blood thinners. Elderly patients and family members should always disclose any supplements or herbal remedies being taken as well.
If an elder has reduced mobility and thus activity levels, dietary needs such as caloric intake decrease. However, when the body is healing from surgery or fighting an illness, nutritional needs may increase and it is especially important to get a nutrient-dense diet. A geriatric assessment will uncover many such issues and provide recommended actions. Often the care manager will identify the importance of bringing these concerns to a healthcare professional, which may lead to seeking a nutrition consultation. Many times healthcare providers who do not see the client in the home environment may not be fully aware of the nutritional and day-to-day concerns that can have a big impact on health and clinical outcomes.
Other related areas identified within the geriatric care management assessment include the client’s abilities regarding activities of daily living (ADLs: things like dressing, bathing, grooming, eating) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs: things like using the telephone, driving, cooking). The professional care manager may find that the person is having difficulty in some areas that are impacting their ability to maintain good nutrition. Low vision may cause an individual to minimize cooking or eat less. Poor balance may make the person uncomfortable standing to cook for long periods. Concerns about driving may lead a person to have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, leading to reliance on canned and frozen foods. As the care manager visits with the client in the home, she can get a picture of daily life. Some simple modifications, support services or tools can make a big impact for the client.
Contact us today if you are concerned about an elder family member’s nutrition, safety, health or well-being.