By Judith Guilfoyle, Program Manager
Older people are at an increased risk of inadequate diet and malnutrition, and the rise in the older population will put more patients at risk. Inadequate diet and malnutrition are associated with a decline in functional status, impaired muscle function, decreased bone mass, immune dysfunction, anemia, reduced cognitive function, poor wound healing, delay in recovering from surgery, and higher hospital and readmission rates and mortality. Malnutrition can increase likelihood of infections, poor wound healing, low blood pressure, pneumonia, and a host of other ailments.
Residents in long-term care, especially those with dementia, pose additional challenges in maintaining proper nutrition. They will often refuse to eat, reject food, become too distracted to eat, not able to use utensils properly, not recognize food, and have difficulty chewing.
Experts suggest that to improve eating behaviors, make mealtimes easier, and prevent unintended weight loss and health problems, dining approaches must better address individual residents’ needs. Their suggestions include:
-Get to know the residents’ food likes, their eating habits, provide choices, make mealtime enjoyable
-Customize the menu, offer foods that stimulate sense of smell and appetite
-Make food readily available-some facilities have helped maintain residents’ weight by making food available to residents when they want to eat instead of only at mealtimes.
-Empower caregivers by consistently assigning them to individual residents so that relationships are built and food preferences and behaviors are understood.
Below is a recipe for a delicious and nutritious chicken stew:
Herb Chicken Stew
Recipe by Ming Tsai
Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken, dark and/or white meat, 1/2-inch dice
- Canola Oil, to cook
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 onions, sliced
- 2 large carrots, peeled, 1/8- inch slices
- 2 ribs celery, sliced
- 3 large potatoes, washed, squared off, 1/2-inch dice (or 3 cups leftover cooked rice)
- 1 tablespoon dried time
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon ginger powder
- 8 sprays Fire Roasted Garlic Juice
- 1 tablespoon coarse ground fennel
- 2 tablespoons naturally brewed soy sauce
- 1 quart chicken stock
Directions: In a bowl, mix together the flour and paprika and dredge the chicken in the flour. Shake off excess flour. In a stock pot on high heat, coat with canola oil and brown the chicken. Season with salt and pepper and remove the chicken. In the same pot, brown the onions, carrots and celery. Season. Add the potatoes, thyme, basil, oregano, ginger, garlic, fennel, soy, and stock. Bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan. Cook until the chicken is cooked, potatoes are tender, and stock is reduced by 15 to 20 percent, about 30 to 45 minutes. Check for seasoning.
Plating: Serve in large pasta bowls with crusty bread.