The Best of The Geriatric Dietitian
My name is Katie Dodd and I am a geriatric dietitian. For over a dozen years I have made geriatrics the focus of my career. I have seen the impact that the transformative power food and nutrition can have on the lives of older adults. And I want to spread the word.The Geriatric Dietitian is a space that provides information and education on so many different topics related to geriatrics. I have created this article as a compilation of our very best articles.
The Best of The Geriatric Dietitian is your place to start if you want to learn more about important nutrition topics that impact older adults.
Top 7 Geriatric Nutrition Articles
There are many different articles on The Geriatric Dietitian blog. Topics range from malnutrition to oral health to physical activity. However, if I were to pick my top 7 articles I would want everyone to read… here they are:
- Top 5 Reasons You Need a Geriatric Nutritionist
- Nutrition at End of Life
- Weight Loss in the Elderly Must be Stopped
- Preventing Unintentional Weight Loss in Older Adults
- BMI in the Elderly: What You Need to Know
- Protein Requirements for Older Adults
- Nutrition and Dental for Seniors
There is common theme in all of these articles. It’s all about quality of life. Taking steps to maximize health. So that older adults can get the most out of their golden years.
Whether you know nothing about geriatric nutrition, or maybe just a little, please take the time to read these key articles. And spread the word. Older adults deserve the highest quality of life. A little education and knowledge can go a long way in making that happen.
Most people have never heard of a dietitian. They have no idea what a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist does. Or why it’s so important that older adults consult with a geriatric dietitian.
In this article you will learn the top 5 reasons you need a geriatric nutritionist:
- A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is the nutrition expert
- The physiology of aging is super complicated
- Food plays an important role in healthy aging
- Nutrition requirements are different for older adults
- Frail, sick older adults have more complex needs
In my full time job as a home care dietitian, I see every older adult in my program. Most of the time, I am the first dietitian they meet. And sometimes they don’t have any major nutrition issues. But that’s OK.
Being able to provide education and knowledge about nutrition BEFORE it becomes a problem is key. Nutrition is very important in maximizing health. And while it’s never too late to intervene, the earlier we can step in, the better.
Nutrition at end of life is one of my favorite topics. Mostly, because it is never discussed. And it is so important both for older adults and the ones who love them.
Topics surrounding nutrition at end of life can be a significant source of stress and anguish to older adults, their families, and caregivers.
I’ve seen too much guilt taken on by families and caregivers. Guilt they do not need to carry. Guilt that they didn’t do enough. Or that their loved one died because they couldn’t get them to eat.
Death is a horribly difficult stage of life. Nutrition plays an important role. And so does understanding what the process of death looks like.
I have received some of the most meaningful feedback from people who have read this article. It has helped make some people more confident in how to care for a loved one at end of life. It has also freed some from guilt they have carried after a loved one passed.
I believe that end of life is just as important as any other stage of life. It deserves to be treated with dignity, respect, openness, and gentleness. This includes talking about it. This includes embracing it. And includes educating yourself so you will be prepared.
Go give this article a read. This is important stuff!
Now we are shifting to my other favorite topic in geriatric nutrition. Stopping unintended weight loss.
This topic all comes back to preserving muscle mass and maintaining independence in aging.
Without muscle and strength older adults cannot age in place. In their homes. Like they want to.
We need muscle to do everything. From getting up in the morning. To brushing our teeth. To making our meals. And to be able to live independently in our homes.
Unintended weight loss is such a big deal. But we live in a world where weight loss is celebrated. Losing weight without trying- that can feel like a real win to some. But in older adults it is detrimental. Because they are losing muscle. Independence. Quality of life.
In this article I take a solid stance. And I explain why it is important to stop unintended weight loss in the elderly. Please go take a read and download our free one-page resource that summarizes the article.
This article dives deep into preventing unintentional weight loss in older adults. This was one of the first articles I wrote (#4 I believe!). And it really became a landmark article for the blog.
In this article I go into depth on why unintentional weight loss is such a big deal. Including, what we can do about it.
This article features our “Unintentional Weight Loss Tool Box“:
- Food first approach
- Provide FAVORITE foods
- Ensure display of meals look appetizing
- Create a pleasant dining environment
- Increase calories in the foods already being eaten
- Weight gain smoothies/shakes (store-bought or homemade)
- Appetite stimulants (*use with caution)
- Tube feeding (*use with caution)
This article is important not only for the education but for the implementation of interventions.
Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a hot topic. And it’s one I wanted to address specifically as it relates to older adults.
Here is a sneak peak of the five main points of this article:
- BMI guidelines are different for older adults
- Overall health is more important than BMI
- Usual body weight is the best way to “assess” weight in the elderly
- Unintended weight loss must be stopped
- Older adults who want to lose weight should work with a dietitian
If you use BMI either in practice or personally when you see the doctor, this article is a must read. Trying to get older adults to a lower BMI for no other reason than checking off a box is not OK. It can lead to a greater health risk.
Go give this one read and rethink BMI.
The research behind protein in older adults and national nutrition guidelines haven’t quite caught up with each other yet.
Protein requirements for older adults may be different than for younger adults.
We know protein is an important nutrient for muscle health (and many other functions in the body). This article dives into the science and expert opinions on this important topic.
Go read this article and learn about protein requirement for older adults, how to get enough protein, and how protein may impact quality of life.
Early in my career I heard a dentist speak at a nutrition conference. They made a significant impact on me and I’ve continued to study and promote dental health as it relates to nutrition.
The mouth is the first route of nutrition. If you cannot eat food due to poor oral health, your body can’t get the nutrition it needs.
Nutrition and dental health absolutely go hand in hand. And there is a lot more to it than just having a clean mouth. Oral health can impact overall health in so many ways.
I am a big fan of the dental field and do not think it gets the band width it deserves. Dental isn’t just about appearance, “bad breath”, or preventing cavities. It really does have an impact on quality of life.
I’d encourage you to give this article a read. I really think you’ll learn something new. And probably go brush your teeth right after. And encourage others to do the same! 😉
I am an advocate of providing delicious high calorie recipes to prevent unintended weight loss and promote weight gain. To prevent malnutrition and maximize quality of life.
But what about the resources and tools to do this? People need recipes. And not boring black-and-white handouts with just words on high calorie foods to eat.
We needed beautiful photos and delicious recipes. That can be easily found with an online search.
At the end of 2019 I decided to start a food blog to provide this resource. Now, I have full time job and a family. Time is limited. I purchased the website name in December 2019 and it took me a year until I had the time to actually create it… but my newest website is now live:
My dad came up with the name. It’s simple and to the point. It’s also a work in progress. My goal is to continue to create recipes that make stopping unintended weight loss and gaining weight enjoyable. Or at least tasty. Go check the food blog!!
Wrapping Things Up
If you’ve made it this far in the article, THANK YOU for being here. Thank you for taking the time to learn about geriatric nutrition. This is an important topic. I can use your help in continuing to spread the word.
I would like to give an honorable mention to an article I didn’t cover here. Check out 7 Key Nutrients for Senior Nutrition if you want to learn a bit more about general nutrition guidelines for older adults.
Older adults in our communities deserve the very best in their golden years. And we can help make sure they have the very best quality of life! Let’s do this.