The Nutrition Revolution for Aged Care
Over the past few years there have been a growing number of criticisms into the nutritional value and quality of food served in aged care facilities. This has brought the issue of elderly health to the forefront of people's minds, particularly if they have elderly family members in our community.
The problem concerns the fact that some food in aged care facilities can be highly processed, lacking in nutritional value and quite often, looks very unappealing. Even if the food is nutritious and well balanced, it also needs to taste good and look enticing. Most people young or old can agree that food is an enjoyable part of life. Good food is often the highlight of the day for aged care residents and sadly the food can often be a disappointment for them.
We all appreciate food that smells great, looks appealing and tastes wonderful. So how can we improve the food experience for aged care residents and set a higher standard for Aged Care in Australia?
Back to Basics
Whilst elderly health in nursing homes has been a spotlight in the media, the problem of adequate nutrition applies equally to older people living alone or even with their family. As we get older, we need less kilojoules because we aren’t as active as we once were. But we still need the same amount of nutrients, and sometimes even more, such as calcium. With that being said, as we age it is very important to maintain a nutritious, enjoyable diet to stay healthy and happy.
One way to make food more exciting is to grow it yourself. Looking after a vegetable garden is a great way to include the aged care community in the food experience from the very beginning. Not only is it an excellent hobby for the elderly, it also produces low-cost organic vegetables without the use of unhealthy pesticides. It also gives elderly people a sense of purpose that can sometimes be lacking in the later years of life, and the chance to raise and nurture plants independently while connecting with the earth physically. See our previous blog for other benefits of gardening for the elderly.
Another way to boost elderly interest in food and nutrition is to bring them into the decision-making process. We all get bored of eating the same thing over and over again and can easily get caught up complaining about it. But one way to make it more exciting is to include elders in the food preparation or menu creation. Group discussions about food in Aged Care a great way to give the elderly residents more control over what they want to eat. By integrating the fresh vegetables from the garden to the plate - not only is taste and nutrition improved - so is the mentality about the food.
Build a positive culture in the dining hall. A pleasant environment is key, with open spaces, comfortable seating and decorations or themes on the tables. Communal dining areas should foster relationships of the aged care residents by bringing them together to discuss the food they consume in an open forum. Giving staff having the opportunity to sit down with residents and taste the food can empower residents and staff alike with the choices made within the aged care kitchen. If you are caring for an elder at home the same factors can apply.
For more information on aged care and the Palm Lake Care facilities, call Palm Lake Care on 1800 246 677 or complete our online enquiry form.