The Vital Importance of Food and Water in Nursing Homes

In the world of nursing home care, discussions often revolve around medications, treatments, and therapies. While these aspects are undoubtedly essential, there’s one crucial element that sometimes gets overlooked: food and water. In this blog, we’ll explore the paramount significance of nutrition and hydration in the well-being of nursing home residents and provide insights on how to monitor and advocate for proper nourishment.

Person in hospital gown eating a nutritious meal on a tray, with water and fresh fruit, emphasizing proper care in nursing homes.

The Food and Water Perspective

It’s common for residents and their families to focus primarily on medications – what has been prescribed, what’s being administered, and what’s been discontinued. However, it’s essential to remember that while medications play a significant role in healthcare, nothing surpasses the importance of proper nutrition and hydration.

The Weighty Issue

One of the most telling indicators of a resident’s health is their weight. Families should pay close attention to changes in weight, as they can be early signs of issues related to nutrition and hydration. Sudden or unexplained weight loss should not be ignored, as it can lead to a host of health problems.

Visiting During Meals

To ensure that your loved one is receiving the nourishment they need, consider visiting during meal times. Vary your visitation schedule to observe different meals on different days and times. This helps you get a comprehensive picture of the quality of food being served and whether your loved one is eating it.

Close-up view of bare feet on a mechanical bathroom scale, illustrating weight monitoring or a health and wellness concept.

Quality of Food

Take the time to evaluate the food quality in the nursing home. Is it overly salty? Is it served at the right temperature? Is it appetizing? Often, residents may refuse to eat due to unappetizing or poorly prepared meals. If your loved one eagerly consumes outside food but doesn’t eat the facility’s offerings, it may signal issues with the quality of the provided meals.

Staff Constraints

It’s important to recognize that nursing home staff can sometimes be stretched thin. When an aide is responsible for feeding a resident and is unable to dedicate sufficient time, it can result in incomplete meals and inadequate water intake. This, in turn, leads to malnutrition and dehydration.

Advocating for Nutrition

As an advocate for your loved one’s health, it’s crucial to ensure they are receiving proper nutrition and hydration. Communicate with staff, ask questions, and monitor your loved one’s food and water intake. Don’t hesitate to raise concerns about their dietary needs and advocate for changes if necessary.

Colorful balanced meal plate with grilled chicken, quinoa, guacamole, and fresh vegetables, served on a dark background.

In the realm of nursing home care, the importance of food and water cannot be overstated. While medications play a role in treatment, it’s the quality of nutrition and hydration that often determines the residents’ overall health and well-being. By paying close attention to these aspects and advocating for proper nourishment, you can significantly contribute to the improved quality of life for your loved one in a nursing home. Malnutrition and dehydration should never be allowed to compromise their health and happiness.

If you are seeing changes in your loved one that concern you don’t jump right to medication but consider what they have been eating and drinking first.