The Importance Of Diet Within A Care Plan

When you’re arranging care and support at home for an elderly family member, friend or loved one, having a care plan is incredibly important. Simply put, this plan is a document that sets out the type of care and support that is needed and how this should be provided. Care plans are also inclusive of the elderly person’s wishes and preferences about their care too. 


There are a number of different elements that make up a care plan and they are all just as important as one another. One specific part of any care plan that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked is diet and it is absolutely essential to ensure that you’re covering this within an elderly person’s care plan. If you’re intrigued to learn more about why it is so important to discuss diet within a care plan, keep reading today.


Why is diet an essential part of a care plan?


As people get older, you may notice that their appetite changes and they might not be eating as much or as well as they used to. Unfortunately, this can be detrimental to their health and wellbeing, and malnutrition can be really serious, causing significant and long-lasting health conditions. So, it is really important to keep an eye on a loved one’s weight and to identify if they’re losing weight without trying. 


When an elderly person isn’t getting enough nutrients in their diet, commonly referred to as undernutrition, this can affect every system in their body. It isn’t uncommon for malnutrition to negatively impact things such as; the body’s ability to fight infection and heal wounds, the body’s ability to regulate temperature, muscle density and also cognitive ability. 


By including diet in a care plan, you can help to ensure that your elderly loved one is eating the right foods and enough of them to maintain their health and wellbeing. 


How do you know if a loved one is malnourished?


It is incredibly important to be aware that anyone can be malnourished and even if someone is eating every day and they have a ‘healthy’ BMI or are seemingly overweight, they can still be malnourished. Identifying malnutrition isn’t always easy, but there are a few common signs to look out for;


  • Unintentionally losing weight 

  • Having a low body weight

  • Being uninterested in food 

  • Feeling exhausted 

  • Feeling weak 

  • Getting ill often 

  • Taking a long time to recover from illness


When you have a care plan in place, this needs to be reviewed on a regular basis and malnourishment can also be picked up on during a review. Many care providers plan reviews in predetermined timescales or only review when circumstances change, but ideally, reviews should happen on a more regular basis, preventing missed opportunities to alter care plans. 


Working with an independent care broker can be really advantageous in this regard as they can help by not only overseeing the operation of a care plan, but also overseeing the review process as well. So, you can trust that reviews will take place when needed, highlighting any potential issues with malnourishment. 


How can you help someone with diet and nutrition?


Simply put, the best way to prevent malnutrition is to ensure that your loved one is eating a healthy, balanced diet. You may find that they need assistance with shopping as they get older, and this is a service that can easily be provided by a carer if it is included within the care plan. Whether they’re unable to drive so can’t get to the shops or they’re unable to use technology to order food online, a carer can provide suitable assistance. 


Should it be required, a carer can even help with food preparation too, so you can trust that your loved one will have healthy and nutrient-rich meals in the house ready for them to cook. You could even consider using food delivery companies and arranging for meals to be delivered to your loved one. There are also some brilliant tips for ‘keeping your weight up in later life’ on the NHS website.


Educating yourself about malnutrition and undernutrition is incredibly beneficial as well and The Malnutrition Task Force provides lots of useful information surrounding this topic. The MTF is a group of experts from health, social care and local government that aim to raise awareness and provide practical guidance to help combat preventable undernutrition in later life. So, explore their website to learn more about how you can help your loved one with their diet. 


Getting some assistance with a care plan 


Hopefully, you will now know a little bit more about why it is so important to include diet within a care plan and this definitely isn’t something that should be overlooked. If you require any professional assistance when you’re creating a care plan and arranging care services for an elderly loved one, be sure to contact us here at Care Captains today. 


As independent care brokers, we can provide you with the comprehensive support you need relating to care and support at home. We will happily have a chat with you and get to know your circumstances before helping you design a person-centred care plan that is inclusive of everything your loved one needs. We pride ourselves on always achieving the best possible care by arranging the right type of care, in the right amount, at the right time, delivered by the right provider, so we are the best company to turn to for independent support with home care.

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