As a personal support worker, one of the most important responsibilities that you’ll have when caring for elderly clients is ensuring that their nutritional needs are met. As we age, our nutritional needs change, as do our eating habits and preferences – especially when other factors such as illness and restricted mobility come into play. At times, elderly clients may not have the capacity to take responsibility for their personal eating habits, and in order to maintain their health, it’s crucial that the personal support worker caring for them is familiar with how to properly plan their meals.
If you’re considering a career as a personal support worker, you’ll be performing a range of services to ensure that the clients you work with are safe, comfortable, supported, and healthy. Below, discover some tips for fulfilling the nutritional needs of your senior clients throughout your career.
Factors That Affect the Diet of Elderly Clients Explained for Those with Personal Support Worker Training
There are many factors that can influence the nutritional needs of elderly clients that those completing personal support worker training should be aware of. For one, the medication that a client is taking may affect their ability to digest certain foods, or may negatively impact their appetite due to nausea or other factors. Additionally, decreased sensitivity is commonly experienced among elderly clients, and this may create an aversion to consuming a sustainable amount of food. Dental or oral health problems may also create complications for elderly clients, as they may not be able to comfortably chew certain foods. Due to the many possible reasons that an elderly client’s diet or appetite may change as they age, it’s important to accommodate the dietary restrictions of your clients while keeping in mind their respective nutritional needs.
Ensure that Each Meal Is Filled with Nutrients
Ensuring that each meal is nutrient-rich will make it easier to fulfill the nutritional needs of elderly clients, despite a possible lack of appetite or aversion to certain foods. For example, consider adding a variety of vegetables to meals like pasta, or incorporating nuts, seeds, and fruits into breakfast items like yogurt or cereal. Aim for an adequate amount of whole grains, around 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables, and a limited amount of trans and saturated fats each day.
Preventing Dehydration Is Important
One important component of a healthy diet that’s often overlooked is hydration. As we age, the signal telling us that we need to drink more water grows weaker, affecting the ability of seniors to know when it’s time to hydrate. After completing your personal support worker courses, you’ll be responsible for monitoring how much water your elderly clients are drinking. Try keeping a bottle of water next to them at all times, attempting to ensure that they consume around 9-12 cups of liquid in total throughout the day. Additionally, look out for signs of dehydration, including dark yellow urine. When your clients are properly hydrated, their urine will be almost clear in colour.
As a personal support worker, taking these steps to ensure that your clients’ dietary needs are met will help you to support your clients in maintaining as healthy a lifestyle as possible as they age. Remember these tips when addressing the nutritional needs of elderly clients throughout your career.
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