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Caring Place

A CAREGiver’s Role in Senior Nutrition

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March is National Nutrition Month and helping clients shop for, prepare and cook well-balanced meals is one of the most requested tasks of CAREGiversSM. As seniors age, their dietary needs change. Additionally, many are following doctors’ diet recommendations and navigating medical conditions like diabetes, dementia or arthritis which can make the simple act of eating complicated.

That’s why so many families depend on CAREGivers like you to ensure their senior loved ones are getting proper nutrition and have someone to enjoy a meal with. After all, for most seniors it’s not what’s on their plate at mealtime that matters, it’s who is at the table with them.

If you’re assisting a client with meals, we thought it would be helpful to share a few nutrition resources with you:

  • According to the professionals, six key nutrients – calcium, Vitamins D and B12, sodium, fiber and water – are important to successful aging for any older adult.
  • Aside from medical conditions, these five reasonsalso could impact an older adult’s ability to get the proper nutrition:
    1. Problems chewing
    2. Medications that interfere with sense of taste
    3. Depression
    4. Inability to cook
    5. Loneliness due to eating alone
  • Many medical conditions, tests and treatments can require an older adult to go on a restricted diet. No matter why an older adult may have to adapt his or her eating habits, you can help prepare a client for and manage dietary restrictions with this Senior Dietary Restrictions Resource Guide.
  • If you feel a client may be at risk of not eating because he or she can’t prepare a meal, consider discussing a senior meal delivery option like Meals on Wheels with your client care coordinator and/or the senior’s family to ensure proper nutrition is maintained in between your caregiving shifts.

Aside from the resources, your presence at mealtime can and does have an impact on seniors. Home Instead Senior Care® research shows lack of companionship is the biggest mealtime challenge for seniors. Dining alone can magnify loneliness and feelings of depression, which in turn can suppress appetite and lead to poor eating

That was the case with a client named Madge. When the family hired Home Instead to come into the home to assist, Madge still wasn’t eating. Then the CAREGiver got to know the family and found out Madge had loved to eat out in earlier years. So, the CAREGiver made dinner at home an event complete with special touches like a table cloth. She dusted off the fine china, added candles, and really celebrated mealtime with music and companionship.

Little touches like those should not be underestimated. Thank you for all you to do to keep your clients happy and healthy. You’re helping us change the face of aging one day at a time.

P.S. If you have an inspiring mealtime story to share with us, we’d enjoy reading it. Send it to us via email:CAREGiversCompanion@homeinstead.com or share in your next CAREGivers meeting.

If there’s something you’re interested in learning about to enhance your Home Instead journey, email your thoughts to CAREGiversCompanion@homeinstead.com.* We welcome additional feedback or suggestions for this newsletter as well!