Nursing homes have misconceptions about healthy eating, expert warns

Sociologists Marcela Petrová Kafková and Martina Němcová are scientists from the Center for Aging Research at Masaryk University in Brno. In their study of feeding elderly people in institutional care, they pointed out that food should not only satisfy but also please. However, this is not usually thought of in these facilities. A small variety and a strict regime means customers don't eat with taste. “The ideas of homes for the elderly about healthy food are generally outdated since the 1950s,” says researcher Marcela Petrová Kafkova in an interview with Deník.cz.

Food in nursing homes should not only be satisfying but also enjoyable. However, this is not usually thought of in these facilities. Illustrative photo

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What was the motivation for this research? Why did you start researching how catering works in nursing homes?
We should say that we are sociologists, and the research took place in the field of sociology. So the study of social and cultural importance is not about nutrition Diet in old age. We notice differences when eating at home and after leaving a facility such as a nursing home. We wonder what food means when we live with someone, live alone, or leave for institutional care. How the content of food changes with age. The inspiration came from my previous research on the fourth-year population, the very old people who already need help. We found that food plays a big role for them and that its meaning is very different for those living at home and those living in a facility.

Marcela Petrova KafkaSource: Courtesy of MUNI/Martin Indruch

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What are the biggest differences?
Eating habits of people living at home whether bedridden or dependent Maintenance service, is different, there is more room for personal habits. Home care providers usually bring lunch with dessert, fruit and coffee, and season the food to the client's taste.

How much do individual facilities differ in catering?
A lot. Some homes try to provide more home-based care, while others are more rigorous. This is due, among other things, to the very strict hygiene rules in the Czech Republic. It is very difficult to convince researchers that food other than sliced ​​cured ham is safe. This is one of the reasons why there are no breakfast buffet tables. Because of the idea that such food is dangerous.

Also Read: Elderly suffer from malnutrition in homes and at home

Elderly people in nursing homes and at home suffer from malnutrition

Some pensioners at home are malnourished. There are many reasons

Are the aforementioned strict hygiene regulations to blame, or do households with an equally strict regime ease up?
We see many problems, but the biggest ones are insufficient funds and high wages of employees. A director elders home He told me that a short course of 168 hours is enough for a caregiver. But if someone is going to take care of animals in a zoo, they must have a high school diploma. If the caregiver has almost no qualifications, she doesn't even have to pay. However, despite all this, there are devices that try to make care as pleasant and modern as possible. On the contrary, there are those who mainly try to profit from it.

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You mention in research that we're not willing to put nursing home clients at moderate risk. What does this mean?
For example, they can easily cut a piece of bread at home, but they don't leave it in the facility so that they don't accidentally cut themselves or put others at risk. Plus, they can coat the bread somewhere. Clients' family members generally don't want to take that risk.

In the study, you point out that food is not only satisfying but also pleasurable. Also, homes try to provide healthy food according to outdated ideas, however, do not entertain or enjoy the elderly because of their austerity.
Nursing homes are often based on diets developed for hospitals in the 1950s. He talks about a rational diet, popularly known as “low-fat, low-salt”. Then the food will not be tasty and will not bring joy. New nutritional recommendations, on the other hand, say that when taste weakens with age, it is better to fortify food with strong spices. Sometimes it's not about that Healthy food, but only about outdated ideas about healthy eating. In addition, some homes are based on distorted perceptions of what seniors eat and like to eat. The result is meat, dumplings or meat, potatoes, juice. There is a significant lack of vegetables or fruits, which disappear during digestion. Seniors should consume large amounts of laxatives.

In an interview with Deník, LUCIE VIDOVIĆ talked about feeding the elderly. Further in the text:

Sociologist Lucy Vidovicova

Sociologist: We protect the health of the elderly but forget their satisfaction

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Why do they save on vegetables and fruits?
Vegetables are considered expensive and not very nutritious. Additionally, cooks at these facilities are paid below average minimum wage And they often don't have enough qualifications or knowledge of how to prepare vegetables so they aren't just pureed beets or sauerkraut.

Apart from food, how important are food conditions?
A lot. It is about how the food is served, in what environment, how the food is served, whether the customers can consume it without any problem and whether there is enough time, whether they are seated with someone they are comfortable with. Diet plays a big role in our lives, but we underestimate it in care facilities: people are fed, they are given a balanced diet, and then everything is fine. But there are also houses that focus on food and the experience around it.

How Pensioners Eat
For adults, eating is usually the last major event of the day, a ritual, a joy. But most disappear after going to nursing homes. They don't participate in its preparation, they often can't choose it, they don't like “fat-free” food, it doesn't make them happy. Despite having enough to eat, they sometimes suffer from malnutrition. However, there are exceptions, there are homes where they know that food should not only feed a person, but also make them happy. Deník.cz in the new series How Pensioners Eat Maps the good and bad experiences of readers and their loved ones with feeding the elderly in different types of homes. Write your ideas to zuzana.hronova@denik.cz.

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