Caring for the Caregiver 101

Recognizing Eating Habits

Recognizing a person’s eating habits is the first step to supporting good nutrition! Is the person in your care eating less than usual? Is the person refusing some foods? There are many reasons that can cause changes to a person’s eating habits.

Knowledge:Does the person know how to make healthy meal choices and/or how to cook or prepare their meal?
Access:Does the person live close to grocery stores or markets? Does their community provide meal delivery services?
Money:What healthy choices are available within the person’s budget?
Social:Does the person prefer eating with others or alone?
Culture:What are the person’s values and norms about meals and food choices?
Medical:Are there any health reasons that make it difficult for the person to chew or swallow? What about health reasons (e.g. medications) that have changed the way food tastes or smells? Can the person physically prepare a meal (e.g. chop, carry pots, stir, peel, etc.)?

Challenging a Myth about Nutrition

 Malnutrition cannot be prevented or treated in seniors

A commonly held misbelief is that it is not possible to do anything about malnutrition seen in the senior population. With the right knowledge and information, malnutrition is preventable and treatable!Recognizing Nutrition Risk

How do I recognize if a person is at nutrition risk? Now that you have considered the person’s eating habits, you can screen for malnutrition.

Try a Tool

The Self-Mini Nutritional Assessment (Self-MNA®) is a questionnaire that can be completed by you and the senior in your care. This questionnaire can help you recognize if the person you are caring for is at nutrition risk.Recognizing Dehydration

How do I recognize if a person is at risk for dehydration? The following is a list of some of the signs you may notice when the person you care for is not getting enough fluid.

Dry mouth:the person you care for complains of waking up with a dry mouth, or a dry mouth during the day.
Yellow or dark (amber) urine:when a person is well hydrated, urine should be light yellow or almost clear.
Bad breath:the person you care for has noticeable bad breath even after brushing their teeth.
Constipation:the person you care for has not had a bowel movement in three days.
Tired all the time:even after a good night sleep, the person you care for complains of feeling tired or you notice low energy all day.