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Is a Registered Dietitian Part of
Your Home Health Care Team?
By Rita Miller-Huey
Has a registered dietitian ever
visited you in your home to talk to you and your loved
one about their diet and health? Poorly nourished adults
have higher sickness and death rates than those who
receive optimal nutrition. There are many contributing
factors to our elders possibly being at nutritional
risk. Their age and disease condition are major factors.
Their appetite and attitude have a huge influence on
their nutritional intake, also. If you offer them the
finest in healthy food, and they can't or won't eat, it
can be a very frustrating situation.
However, it is worth the effort to get creative-or even
devious-to ensure optimum nutritional intake. Functional
status is decreased as a result of poor nutrition.
Studies have shown that about 40% of older adults are
not getting adequate amounts of three or more nutrients!
The same people experience an increase in hospital
admissions and the length of hospital stays. They have
more disease complications.
Many of the diseases that folks eligible for home
healthcare have, can be impacted by making small but
crucial changes in nutritional intake or eating
patterns. Persons with cancer, COPD, congestive heart
failure, constipation, coronary heart disease, dementia,
diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and pneumonia can
benefit from the able counseling and helpful information
that a registered dietitian can bring as part of the
home healthcare team. It has also been shown that
persons who are eating well, are also probably drinking
more liquids, thus more likely to avoid dehydration and
the debilitation and complications which come with it.
Does your loved one have "unexplained weight loss"? As
if it was a mystery that when people lose their appetite
and virtually stop eating, they will most assuredly lose
weight- and probably rapidly! When this is the case, it
is beneficial for the registered dietitian to spend time
exploring which foods are the patient's favorites, which
foods they continue to eat and which ones they avoid. In
this way, the recommendations are tailored specifically
for your needs.
A registered dietitian working with your home healthcare
team will work with you to individualize the meal plan
for your loved one to meet your time and food budgets
and preferences for foods. Ask your home health agency
today if their dietitian can visit with you to help you
do some small things that may help your loved one in a