Nutrition Management for Elderly Patients in Nursing Homes
Nutrition is a vital aspect of health and well-being, especially for elderly patients who may have multiple chronic conditions, cognitive impairments, or functional limitations. However, many elderly patients in nursing homes face challenges in maintaining adequate nutrition and hydration, which can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, weight loss, infections, poor wound healing, and reduced quality of life. Therefore, nursing home staff need to be aware of the nutritional needs and preferences of their residents, and provide individualized and person-centered care to support their food and drink intake.
What are the nutritional needs of elderly patients?
The nutritional needs of elderly patients vary depending on their age, health status, activity level, medications, and other factors. However, some general guidelines are:
– Energy: Elderly patients need fewer calories than younger adults, but they still need enough energy to maintain their body functions and prevent muscle loss. The recommended daily intake of calories for elderly patients is about 25 to 30 kcal per kilogram of body weight (Murphy et al., 2017).
– Protein: Elderly patients need more protein than younger adults to preserve their muscle mass, immune function, and wound healing. The recommended daily intake of protein for elderly patients is about 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight (Murphy et al., 2017).
– Fluids: Elderly patients are at risk of dehydration due to reduced thirst sensation, decreased kidney function, medication side effects, or swallowing difficulties. Dehydration can cause confusion, constipation, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and falls. The recommended daily intake of fluids for elderly patients is about 30 milliliters per kilogram of body weight or at least 1.5 liters per day (Skills Platform Blog, 2021).
– Vitamins and minerals: Elderly patients may have deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals due to poor dietary intake, malabsorption, medication interactions, or increased requirements. Some of the most common deficiencies are vitamin D, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. These nutrients are important for bone health, blood formation, wound healing, and nerve function. Elderly patients may need supplements to meet their daily requirements (Murphy et al., 2017).
How to support food and drink intake for elderly patients?
To support food and drink intake for elderly patients in nursing homes, nursing staff need to adopt a person-centered approach that considers the individual’s preferences, needs, abilities, and goals. Some of the strategies that can help are:
– Assessing the nutritional status and risk of malnutrition for each resident using tools such as the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool (MUST) or the Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) (Murphy et al., 2017).
– Providing a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from different food groups, such as meat, fish, eggs, nuts, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. The diet should also be tailored to the resident’s medical conditions, allergies, intolerances, or special diets (e.g., diabetic, gluten-free) (Skills Platform Blog,
– Offering regular meals and snacks every 2 to 3 hours that are appropriate in portion size,
texture (e.g., soft or pureed), temperature (e.g., hot or cold), and flavor (e.g., sweet or savory). The meals and snacks should also be appealing in appearance,
aroma, and presentation (Skills Platform Blog,
– Encouraging fluid intake throughout the day by providing water,
or soup in cups,
or straws that are easy to hold and drink from. Fluids can also be added to foods such as porridge,
or ice cream (Skills Platform Blog,
– Assisting the resident with eating and drinking as needed by providing verbal cues,
or hand-over-hand guidance. The assistance should be respectful,
and supportive of the resident’s dignity and autonomy (NurseBuff,
– Creating a pleasant and comfortable dining environment that is free from noise,
and interruptions. The dining area should also have adequate lighting,
and space for the resident to sit comfortably and safely (Murphy et al.,
– Enhancing the social aspect of eating and drinking by involving the resident in meal planning,
and serving. The resident can also be encouraged to eat with other residents,
or staff who can provide positive feedback,
and companionship (Murphy et al.,
Nutrition management for elderly patients in nursing homes is a complex and challenging task that requires a multidisciplinary and person-centered approach. Nursing home staff need to be aware of the nutritional needs and preferences of their residents, and provide individualized and evidence-based care to support their food and drink intake. By doing so, they can help improve the health, well-being, and quality of life of their residents.
Murphy, J. L., Holmes, J., & Brooks, C. (2017). Nutrition and dementia care: developing an evidence-based assignment help – research paper writing service USA model for nutritional care in nursing homes. BMC Geriatrics, 17(1), 55. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-017-0443-2
Skills Platform Blog. (2021). Maintaining nutrition and hydration in care homes. https://www.skillsplatform.org/blog/maintaining-nutrition-and-hydration-in-care-homes/
NurseBuff. (2023). Nursing Care Plan for Elderly Patients. https://www.nursebuff.com/nursing-care-plan-for-elderly/