As our long-stay residents age in place, often we see them get to a point where we begin to notice that they are reducing their intake. Nursing assistants document when residents are eating just 25% to 50% of their meals.
They begin to lose weight, so we do what we feel is best. After all, we don’t want a surveyor to pick up the chart and think we haven’t done our due diligence.
We call for a dietary consult. The dietitian comes in, reviews the chart, maybe assess the resident and orders liquid supplements. We breathe a sigh of relief. We have an intervention.
Please! If I get to the point in my life where I am eating less and losing weight (not likely — I’ve got the metabolism of a bear during hibernation), let me eat FOOD! How about this: Instead of making the resident drink a sugar, corn syrup, vegetable oil, “vitamin fortified” artificially flavored supplement (Oh, yummy!) let’s fortify the foods they do like.
You can’t deny that when you start giving the resident those unpleasant supplements they eat less food than before. How about this instead? Have the dietitian ask the resident’s usual caregiver what foods the resident does eat.
Oatmeal? Great. Let’s fortify the oatmeal with extra calories and protein. Add more butter and cream, brown sugar, raisins and protein powder. Mashed potatoes? OK, add more cream and butter, maybe some protein-fortified gravy.
If they like cake, let’s serve it at every meal. My point is, give them what they like to eat, boost the calories and nutrition in that, and let them eat what they enjoy. After all, food is one of the last pleasures our residents have. Let’s not take that away!
Just keeping it real,
The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, an APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professional affiliates.