Nurture Wins over Nature and Nutrition

There is no question that our residents have been negatively impacted by social isolation and loneliness during the pandemic, and problems such as anorexia and weight loss have often resulted.

Others suffered the same consequences from the added burden of COVID-19 illness and the accompanying loss of taste and smell. 

Steve Buslovich, MD, CMD, MSHCPM, a certified medical director and co-founder/CEO of Patient Pattern, has a solution. He shook up nutritional guidance with his quote of the week in McKnight’s last week:

“Milkshakes, sundaes, bananas, soft pretzels and other snacks will be more than fun treats; they may be lifesaving”.

Nature and Nutrition

Even before the devastating effects of the pandemic, the anorexia of aging was an issue, leading to weight loss, malnutrition, and increased frailty. It is not an inevitable part of aging. Rather, it has a multifactorial etiology. However, it’s important to identify and address it early to prevent cachexia and muscle wasting. Dietary interventions can be helpful, and medical management of underlying comorbidities is also important.

This brings us back to ice cream.

Nurture The Residents with Foods They Love

In  McKnight’s, Dr. Buslovich, recounts the ways in which the nutritional status of many nursing home residents has deteriorated and how it will remain this way for a time to come. This calls, he says, for both creativity and flexibility, with more foods that residents want, that are easy for them to eat themselves or be fed, and that have some nutritional value. These might include the following: 

½ cup 2.3 grams protein 85 milligrams calcium 0% Vitamin D
 10 oz 9 grams protein 300 milligrams calcium 0% Vitamin D
 1 1.1 grams protein 0 calcium 0% Vitamin D
 1 9.4 grams protein 24 milligrams calcium 0% Vitamin D
 1 7 grams protein 150 milligrams calcium 0% Vitamin D
 6 oz 6 grams protein 200 milligrams calcium 50 IUs Vitamin D
 1 9 grams protein 300 milligrams calcium 100 IUs Vitamin D


Nutritional recommendations for adults 70 and older are fairly consistent in recommending 80-120 grams of protein, 1200 mg of calcium, and 800 International Units of Vitamin D per day. 

These foods offer some of what our residents need and a lot of what they want. While we await the “new normal” in nursing home care, ice cream and other goodies might just be what the doctor ordered. 

Tracking resident frailty can help identify changes of condition that, left unrecognized or addressed, can result in costly ED visits and hospitalizations. We can help assess risk, identify residents at high risk of various issues, and enable emerging problems to be recognized and addressed in real-time. Contact us at patientpattern.com/contact.