Supported Nutrition Across the Lifespan

It's not only eating disordered teens (and sufferers of all ages!) who need supported nutrition. Elderly patients in nursing homes and residential centers also benefit from mealtime support.

For elderly patients, any sort of weight loss greatly contributes to morbidity and mortality, so maintaining proper weight and nutrition is extra important. But as people get older, the effort of eating and cooking increases immensely, taste buds decline, and a person can be physically capable of eating less. As well, ongoing health problems and certain medications decrease appetite, so it's ultra important that people have the support they need.

A recent study found that

Individualized attention during daily meals and snacks in between minimizes weight loss among long-stay nursing home residents...

The amount and quality of daily feeding assistance "can and does make a significant difference on the nutritional health status of a frail population," Dr. Sandra F. Simmons told Reuters Health.

And not only will this attention help nutritionally, it can also provide important social contact and bonding.

Eat with your anorexic...and your granny.

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Tiptoe said...

This is so true. I remember when my grandmother died and how it affected my grandfather both emotionally and physically. He became very frail despite our best efforts to make sure he had nutrition.

This population is often overlooked, so this is an important reminder.

Cammy said...

My grandmother's sister had an eating disorder her entire life (although it was never diagnosed), she remained extremely thin and had disordered habits but wasfunctional for decades. When she was put into an "assisted living" center, though, she essentially stopped eating and died of organ failure less than a year later. I don't think the center itself was to blame for her behavior, her husband had just died, she was uprooted, etc, lots of factors converging...but it still seems like there could have been more attention and attempts to intervene. I think the fact that factors like death, loneliness, etc are so common among the elderly, in addition to the medications and other things you mention, can cause people to overlook "poor appetites" until it's too late.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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