The basics of aged care dietetics

A healthy, balanced diet becomes increasingly important as we age and the needs of our bodies change. On the whole, the elderly are less active than younger people, but this absolutely does not mean that they require less nutrients or fewer meals. Quite the opposite - the required nutrients such as proteins and calcium are actually higher for seniors.

Accordingly, diet is a crucial part of what residential aged care facilities provide, keeping their residents nourished, healthy, and happy with a balanced menu that features variety and tastiness in equal measure. To ensure that a RACF's menu is appropriate, the best thing to do is to consult with a qualified and experienced dietician. It's still important for staff and families to be aware of a resident's nutritional needs though, so in this article, we'll run through a few of the basics of aged care dietetics.

Aged care dieteticsDoes your RACF's menu cover the basic food groups?

A balance of nutritious foods

There are a wide variety of different foods that make up the basis of any balanced diet. There are four main groups, however, that are the most vital. The first one is fruit and vegetables, which supplies the body with crucial antioxidants and vitamins. It's important to explore the entire 'rainbow' of fruit in order to get the best that each variety has to offer in terms of nutritional value, and of course flavor!

Wholegrains are the next group to include, with cereals and bread being a great source of dietary fiber - especially amongst the elderly to stimulate intestinal motility and regularity.

Next, you'll want to make sure your residents are receiving enough calcium, which is one of the most common deficiencies in people over the age of 65. The best way to get this is through milk, and high calcium levels can promote everything from nutrient transport to bone strength.

Finally, protein is a pillar of any nutritious diet, and it can be found in a variety of sources. Eating plenty of eggs, lean meat and nuts will help to maintain functionality.

Tailor diets to individual needs

While it's great to have a basic menu that provides the essential nutrients that the body needs, a RACF also needs to consider the individual needs of certain residents who may have more specific requirements. Frequently examples of this is diabetes, which affects as many as 16 percent of Australians over the age of 65.

A resident with diabetes doesn't have to suffer a dull or repetitive diet though, and it's more than possible to provide the specific nutrients that they need while still retaining good overall health and plenty of delicious variety. Residents with diabetes require regular meals just like anyone else, and appropriate amounts and with good management, sweet treats can still be a part of their diet. For these sorts of tailored diets, you'll want to consult with a dietician provided by Australian Health Professionals.

The way that meals are managed and organized in a RACF can also bring social benefits to the residents.

The social benefits of nutrition

Nutrition is vital to maintaining good levels of health, but the way that meals are managed and organized in a RACF can also bring social benefits to the residents. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all opportunities for people to socialize and interact with one another, so wherever possible eating in groups should be encouraged. It's also been shown that eating with others can increase food intake, and combat malnutrition and undernutrition.

If a RACF has the facilities, you can take this even further and encourage residents to cook for themselves and others. Of course, it's important to be sure that the meals are still healthy and that your would-be masterchef has the support they need.

These are just a few of the basic elements and benefits of nutrition. For more information on dietetics, get in touch with Australian Health Professionals today.

On this website, we may use first or third-party tools that store small files (cookie) on your device. Cookies are normally used to allow the site to run properly (technical cookies), to generate navigation usage reports (statistics cookies) and to suitable advertise our services/products (profiling cookies). We can directly use technical cookies, but you have the right to choose whether or not to enable statistical and profiling cookies. Enabling these cookies, you help us to offer you a better experience.

For more information you can read our Cookies policy.

Some contents or functionalities here are not available due to your cookie preferences!

This happens because the functionality/content marked as “%SERVICE_NAME%” uses cookies that you choosed to keep disabled. In order to view this content or use this functionality, please enable cookies: click here to open your cookie preferences.