There are few things better than a hot, nutritious meal. However, as you age, it can become more difficult to get the nutrients you need to stay strong and healthy. Sixteen percent of independent older adults are at high risk for malnutrition, according to the National Council on Aging. AARP notes that malnourished seniors cost the healthcare industry an estimated $130 billion a year and can lead to poor wound healing, weakened immune system, and puts seniors at risk for hospital readmissions.
Many factors can lead to malnutrition in seniors. Some examples are:
- Difficulty shopping for groceries and preparing meals
- Dental issues such as poor-fitting dentures or sore gums
- Financial stress that leaves little for healthy foods
- Medication side-effects that suppress appetite
At Brookdale, it’s not unusual for a new resident to move in and start gaining or losing weight. At home, they were living alone and challenged with grocery shopping and preparing meals for one. Once they move in with us, they have access to three nutritious meals a day. That simple change can make a world of a difference for their nutritional well-being.
Our Nutrition At-Risk program takes our commitment to healthy eating one step further. Upon move-in, we measure the resident’s weight and calculate their body mass index (BMI). We use tools in our electronic medical records to track weight and BMI and other information pertaining to the resident’s health. Once a month, this data is recorded so we can closely monitor the nutrition of our residents. If weight fluctuation needs to be addressed, we work to identify the root cause and create an intervention plan.
In addition to tracking weight and BMI, we note residents’ dietary restrictions and favorite foods. Brookdale’s culinary team is dedicated to re-creating cherished family recipes or making sure a preferred dessert is on the menu when possible. Residents can select meals from a menu of options that fit their health needs. These special touches create a warm, comfortable atmosphere for our residents.
Better data helps us make better decisions for residents. Offering a tasty menu of options empowers our residents to make healthy choices. It’s a win/win. As a senior living provider, we are taking a proactive approach to resident health. For residents, the benefit of living healthier lives.