Nutrition plays an important role in healthy aging. However, many factors can lead to malnutrition and weight loss in older adults, including physiological, psychosocial and economic factors. In addition, the transition from an inpatient or skilled nursing facility to home can intensify the risk.
Many healthcare food service departments are developing creative ways to nutritionally support older adults before, during and after a transition to home. Offering these additional services makes sense because nutritionally-balanced menus, food safety programs and food production equipment are already in place at the facility. Also, many facilities have seen added benefits such as a possible extra revenue source and an additional marketing tool for attracting new patients and residents.
Check out these ideas for ways to offer nutrition to seniors outside your facility:
1. Home delivered meals: Provide daily delivery of a meal, or deliver a week’s worth of frozen meals.
2. Food to go: Send discharged seniors home with a bag full of basic food staples.
3. Voucher programs: Work with local grocery stores, restaurants, hospitals and senior centers to setup voucher programs that allow seniors to purchase foods and meals.
4. Healthcare recipe ideas: Create recipes for home use so seniors can make 1-2 servings based off of your facility menu program.
5. Healthy snack ideas: Provide a sample snack pack and/or list of healthy snacks appropriate for the resident/patient being discharged.
6. Nutrition education: Offer education shortly before discharge or as a take-home packet.