Anyone attending to a post-acute care patient knows the value of proper nutrition. After all, you are what you eat, and when your body is broken, it is not only imperative you have access to good foods, fresh fruits, and vegetables, but those that are specifically targeted for your body, depending upon the nature of your injury and/or disease. Says Critical Care Marketing expert, Peggy O’Neill, because the body is working overtime to heal itself during times of post-acute care, it needs to be suitably fueled to function properly. This is especially true of seniors who require even more nutritional support since nature takes away their ability to absorb nutrients as they age.
But what exactly is post-acute care? After a long hospitalization for a life threatening injury and/or disease, patients may be required to undergo continued medical treatment either at home or in a specialized medical/rehab facility. Post-acute medical services, like those provided by a comprehensive multi-specialty medical care provider such as Daiya Healthcare, can assist those in need of prolonged and recurring illness, as well as disability management.
A major part of this treatment, especially when it comes to fragile seniors, revolves around the patient’s diet. Here are some of the ways multi-specialty providers are able to boost post-acute care nutrition in seniors.
1. Post-Acute Care Meals Need to be Full of Nutrients
Slow cooked stews, pot roasts, baked free range chicken, casseroles, homemade soups, and more are not only considered comfort foods to recovering seniors, they are stuffed with the nutrients they need to heal. In other words, the more calories and nutritional value the better.
2. Post-Acute Care Seniors Have Small Appetites
All too often, even when seniors are relatively healthy, encouraging them to eat anything can be an all too common struggle. Even though you’d like to eat rich, full meals, the fact is that with age, our metabolisms slow down and the desire to eat until we feel full—or even to eat at all—can be a major struggle.
That’s why multi-specialty healthcare suppliers assist with providing meals that are small but pack a real punch when it comes to adding much needed calories. Gravies, sauces, cheeses, and even adding protein rich powdered milk to small meals greatly aids in boosting nutritional value. They also taste good. These bigger, calorie-rich food items allow you to squeeze more nutritional value into meals that are smaller in stature.
3. Post-Acute Care Senior Patients Want Color in their Meals
It’s hard enough to get a senior to eat a nutritious meal when they are still ailing from a broken bone or a prolonged illness. But if it doesn’t look good, chances are they most definitely won’t eat it. Even if you’ve created a delicious meal, if it looks bland and unappetizing, a senior in post-acute care might look the other ways.
However, fresh mashed sweet potatoes, rather than white potatoes, can provide a healthy, colorful alternative for post-acute care seniors. All natural tomato sauce made from vine tomatoes provides both color and nutrients. Vegetables such as green broccoli, fresh yellow corn, red radishes, orange carrots, and all varieties of beans are nutrient filled and appetizing to look at. Or, instead of using regular potatoes on the plate, try switching it up with some bright orange sweet potatoes, which is both dazzling in appearance and in nutritional value.
4. Post-Acute Care Seniors Crave Company When they Eat
It’s often to easier to eat when you’re in the company of someone else. Multi-specialty healthcare providers will assist lonely post-acute care seniors by strongly encouraging loved ones and friends often join them for meals. They will encourage family to establish set schedules both for patients undergoing fulltime care in a medical/rehab facility or those still able to live at home while visiting an outpatient clinic. If you don’t already, make it a priority to reach out to family and friends of your residents to make sure they get regular visits.
If you notice that many of your seniors lack company during their meals, whether it’s a result of short staff or lack of family members, consider starting a volunteer program that gets vetted, background-checked individuals through the door for some much-needed company and conversation.
5. Dietary Supplements Offer Added Nutrition to Post-Acute Care Seniors
Multi-specialty healthcare providers are eager to listen to concerns family members might have about a loved one who will not eat enough to maintain their health and to heal. In that case, it’s possible the healthcare provider will offer vital information on nutrient rich, tasty shakes and even healthy deserts the most stubborn post-acute care senior can’t resist. Just as any adult in good or fair health standing might supplement their meals with vitamins, so too can seniors. Based on their blood work results, factor in custom vitamins, herbs, and supplements that could help them maintain good nutritional health.
6. Seniors Undergoing Post-Acute Care must Avoid Junk Food and Fillers
This might seem obvious, but all too often, the families of aging, ailing loved ones who will not eat no matter what you put in front of them, will resort to offering up candy bars, cookies, pies, and cakes, just to get them to put something in their bellies. But useless fillers are not only restricted to nutrient poor sweets. Carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, and even teas and coffees will make a post-acute care senior feel full. If the senior in your life would rather snack than sit down to a nutritious meal, offer them healthy alternatives like raisons, grapes, melon, and non-salted nuts.
Post-acute care seniors require intense attention when it comes to their nutrition. That’s only one reason why specialty healthcare groups have been established. Should your loved ones simply refuse to eat, and therefor rob their bodies of the precious nutrients they need to get well under post-acute care circumstances, they will provide not only a meal plan, uniquely designed for the patient, they will also offer face-to-face consultation with a dietitian for both the facility bound patient and the at home patient.