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Nutrition and Hydration

2018-08 FTHC In-Service:

Nutrition and Hydration

A good diet must have all four food groups. The four food groups are:
  • Dairy. Cheese, milk and yogurt are dairy foods
  • Meat. Chicken, steak, fish, beans, pork and veal products are members of the meat group.
  • Fruits and vegetables. Apples, pears, lettuce, tomatoes, orange juice and potatoes are some of the foods that people can eat to get their daily fruits and vegetables.
  • Grains. Bread and cereal belong to the grains food group.

Nutrition Facts:

  1. Elders do not burn calories as quickly as younger adults.
  2. Elders need similar quantities of vitamins, minerals and proteins no matter their age.
  3. An elder￿s diet should provide fiber to prevent constipation. (examples: fruits, vegetables, cereal)
  4. An elder￿s appetite lessens and digestion slows with age. Small-portion meals and snacks are useful in providing adequate nutrition. A snack or meal should include protein. (Examples: nuts, cheese)
  5. Medications can affect an elder￿s appetite and often a supplement such as Boost or Ensure can facilitate calories and nutritional needs.
  6. Some medications have to be given and/or after food intake and caregiver should be mindful of these needs.
  7. Some medications require specific food restrictions (such as when an elder is on Coumadin). Follow all restrictions put forth by client, family or facility when noted.
  8. Proper food preparation is important and presentation can be a helpful factor in persuading an elder to eat.
  9. A client having difficulty chewing food often responds better to softer foods and can, therefore, better maintain a good level of nutrition.
  10. Making food manageable on an elder￿s plate (cutting meats, vegetable, etc) can help with successful meal consumption and nutritional value.
  11. Vision loss can contribute to poor eating simply because the elder cannot see his/her food well. Assistance with a meal can help elder maintain good nutritional intake.


  • The human body is made mostly of water
  • Water makes up about 2/3 of the body￿s weight
  • Water is needed to control the temperature of the body, to keep all body cells alive and to keep the blood flowing.
  • Water is given to the body in some foods and by drinking fluids, such as tea, water, juice and coffee.
  • As a person gets older, the amount of water that is found in the body gets smaller.

People will become dehydrated when they drink or consume less fluid than the body needs to perform its functions. When a person is dehydrated, the whole body is affected. Elders may not get enough fluid for a number of reasons.

Hydration Facts:

  1. Elders do not always feel thirsty.
  2. Some elders have incontinence and think drinking fluids will make that condition worse. However, not drinking enough fluids increases the concentration of bacteria in the urine which can cause Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).
  3. Elders need reminders to drink, often forgetting to do so on their own.
  4. Some elders so not see the importance of fluid intake, especially water.
  5. Elders can get hydration from water, juice, fruit, soup and dietary supplements such as Boost or Ensure.
  6. Elders can be sensitive to how the liquid is presented. Some only wand ice-cold water, others luke-warm or room temperature. Coffee and Tea need to be served at a safe temperature.
  7. Some elders have difficulty drinking liquids like water due to a swallowing issue. If this is the case please notify your Care Director IMMEDIATELY.

When working with elders be sure to push fluids throughout the day and document intake. Keep in mind that there are some clients who have fluid restrictions because of health issues and caregivers need to be mindful of these limitations. In these cases all fluid intake is generally monitored and charted. Contact Care Director if you are informed of any new fluid restrictions by a family or facility.

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