People are getting older and living longer

In 2018, for the first time in history, persons older than 65 years outnumbered children under 5 years globally. And life expectancy is continuing to increase in South Africa and across the world.

Ageing well is not just about living longer, it is also about the quality of life you live.

Food and nutrition contribute significantly to our quality of life and sense of well-being, as well as our ability to age well.

Research shows that older persons, as well as their care partners, have a poor ability to assess their nutritional status

It is important to know an individual’s nutritional status and take a preventative approach to health by implementing healthy behaviours and eating habits from as early as possible. However, it is never too late to change!

Malnutrition is prevalent among all groups of older people

A recent international literature study that used the MNA as a screening tool found that between 47% and 62% of older persons in long term care facilities were at risk of malnutrition. It is estimated that 13.7% of the elderly residing in nursing homes are malnourished, and 5.8% of those living in the community.

Malnutrition detection is not as simple as just taking a resident’s weight or assessing their food intake.

There are many factors that play a role and should be taken into account when assessing nutrition. 

Regular nutrition screening has significant benefits

The benefits of regular nutritional monitoring include decreased prevalence of the risks associated with malnutrition, including loss of strength and function, risk of falls, depression, infection risk, pressure ulcers, and delayed wound healing.

Nutrition management is worth it!

The potential increase in workload that comes with regular nutrition screening is justified by the improved health outcomes and decreased costs that will be gained as a result.

Why should you choose a GERATEC dietitian?

The dietitians at GERATEC have a special interest in working with the ageing population. We know and understand the nutritional problems older people may be facing and have the knowledge and skills to provide the right advice to ensure they are maintaining a nutritious and varied diet within their unique parameters.

We offer relationship directed support as we value the relationships with residents, their families and the comprehensive care team.  We value the importance of social engagements and connectedness. Our dietitians understand that life is about balance, so we make sure that the meal plan we create for each person is one that they will enjoy and feel good about in both the short and long-term.

We make it as convenient as possible to see one of our dietitians by offering in-home or on-line consultations to residents and training to employees.

GERATEC dietitians liaise with all parties involved: the resident, their families, the food service team, care team and home management to ensure suggested interventions are practical and suitable to each person and the home they live in. *See Nutrition Care Meetings

We monitor effectiveness by follow-up sessions with residents and care teams.  The dietitian does on-site checks and formal audits on approved food products used, special diet production, nutrition care systems and employee knowledge. 

We provide feedback to relevant parties on individuals and reports on the nutritional status of the home’s population to management which is essential for strategic planning.  

Our dietitians create awareness and provide evidence-based information by hosting workshops, training and information sessions to residents, employees, clients and the community.  

You can be confident that your residents will receive optimal nutrition within your facility parameters if your cycle menus are compiled or checked by our dietitians.

Having a GERATEC dietitian will save you money as we facilitate preventative strategies: “Prevention is better than cure”.  Preventing malnutrition far outweighs the possible costs of medicine, time of care, loss of mobility, function, health, social interaction and harm to emotional and social wellness.

*Nutrition care meetings

The dietitian will facilitate nutrition care meetings with the Sister-in-charge and/or care partners. The nutritional management of residents identified as nutritionally at risk is discussed. This includes residents who present with significant weight changes, have recently been ill and/or hospitalised or changes in intake. An individualised, person-centered approach is taken to implement appropriate nutritional interventions which are communicated to the catering and care team for implementation.  The dietitian also follows up on effectiveness and updates changes needed.

Article by Ide-Marie Venter, registered dietitian