Individualized Care Plans & Support Can Improve Elder Nutrition

As covered in our previous post, seniors have different nutritional needs as they age.  Nutrition is especially important for individuals recuperating from an illness or surgery, those with diabetes and other chronic conditions and taking certain medications.  A professional home caregiver can assist in many ways with maintaining and boosting good nutrition.

EasyLiving uses a personalized care planning process with each client that incorporates many aspects of the person and their care.  Each section covers an area of the person’s needs and lays out a game plan for our home care aides to provide customized homecare.  For example, the nutrition section of the elder careplan provides information on any special diets or dietary restrictions, such as limited potassium, limited phosphorous, limited protein or a lactose-controlled diet.  It also specifies any food allergies and notes for specific dietary restrictions.  Additionally, as elderly clients may have swallowing problems, we can prepare texture-modified diets or thickened liquids as ordered.  Home health aides can also be alerted to watch for coughing or swallowing difficulties.

Additionally, we plan for the type of assistance and any adaptive equipment a person might need to ensure they get proper nutrition.  For example, does a person need verbal reminders or a little bit of help with eating, or perhaps full assistance with meals?

We also ask our clients for some information about their daily routine and life history, so that we can better personalize care.  For example, we ask about their favorite food and drink, and when they like to have them (such as “I love tea with milk, but only in the afternoons, never with a meal”).  We also get acquainted with their routine, so that we do not disrupt it.  So, we like to know if a person prefers to sleep late and have a small meal and a later lunch, or goes out to the local coffee shop every day for breakfast.  We all like our routines and our favorite food and drink can be a great comfort!

Our Pinellas County home caregivers use this personalized care plan to support the elder in many ways.  Regarding nutrition, our home care aides can do everything from meal planning, shopping and preparation to providing companionship for the meal.  Often, as seniors experience sensory or mobility changes, they will adapt daily patterns in ways that can be detrimental to good health.  For example, if a senior gives up driving, he or she may not go out to the store often and get fresh fruits or vegetables.  The person may survive primarily on frozen meals or processed foods that aren’t likely to be the best nutritionally.

Families often share their concerns that Mom or Dad is not eating a well-balanced diet and has stopped cooking.  Vision, sensory changes, changes to strength or balance may make it harder to prepare meals from scratch.  Additionally, many people eat less or more poorly when they eat alone.  Having a companion for meals can not only make a difference emotionally, but also nutritionally.  Our professional caregivers can also take your elderly parent out for a meal at a favorite restaurant or share the experience of cooking a favorite family recipe, so he or she can continue to enjoy those special experiences.

Contact us today for more information on elder nutrition and Clearwater & Pinellas County Home Health Care Services to assist with grocery shopping, senior meal preparation services, and in-home help!