“Every person with dementia will have difficulty with nutrition at some point,” Alzheimer’s Australia NSW CEO John Watkins recently said.
While nutritional analysis and provision of a nutritional menu is controlled in nursing homes, the elderly in the community rely on their own ability and means to maintain their nutritional requirements.
The discussion paper listed 10 recommendations including
- a celebrity ambassador to champion good nutrition for older people
- information and resources for consumers in the community
- training for home care workers
- national nutrition guidelines for meal delivery services
This raises the bigger question of "nutritional quotient" in the community as a whole and for vulnerable populations especially. Even in the controlled environment of a nursing home, residents may not necessarily receive their daily nutritional quotient, despite the best planned menu. However controls are put in place to manage this risk by weighing the resident to ensure they maintain weight over time. If not, a specific program and monitoring system will be put in place for them. (Some may argue the effectiveness may vary significantly). Expect to see more enabling technologies for staff to monitor this into the future.
In the community setting, home care service providers can certainly play a significant role in monitoring and contributing to the nutritional quotient. Because undernutrition can have a significant impact on the course of dementia including cognitive and functional symptoms, and prognosis. Already we are seeing a range of ready made meal options complete with nutritional panel in the supermarkets plus home delivery services offering convenient fresh and frozen meals right to the door.
Some care providers are already recognising this important market and are offering their own branded community meal delivery service. Variety, ease of use, delivery options and cost will continue to improve in this multi-million dollar industry.