Caregiving at Home


Thinking About Home Care




Caring For Yourself


Setting Up Your Home, Safety and Body Mechanics


Preventing Infection in the Home


Normal and Abnormal Signs of Aging


Meeting Special Needs and Conditions


Death, Dying and Hospice Care


Providing Personal Care


Transfers and Ambulation


Basic Healthcare Skills


Healthy Eating and Hydration


Emergency Care



Chapter 12 Healthy Eating and Hydration

A healthy diet and good nutrition are important for everyone, but there can be special physical and emotional issues associated with aging that may cause problems with food intake. Chapter 12 covers these problems and offers some ways to address them."Health Eating and Hydration" shows you how to help a person who has swallowing problems and gives you guidelines for preventing aspiration, or the inhaling of food into the lungs.

Chapter 12 of Caregiving at Home tells you about the six basic nutrients that the body needs for growth, development and healing and includes a chart of the sources and functions of essential vitamins and minerals.

Fluid balance is also important to health; among other things, proper hydration helps prevent constipation and urinary incontinence. "Healthy Eating and Hydration" gives you guidelines for preventing dehydration, which is a serious and pervasive problem, and lists signs and symptoms of dehydration. This chapter explains the importance of fluid balance and how to measure and record fluid intake and output (I&O). Signs and symptoms of fluid overload, a condition that may affect people with heart or kidney disease, are also listed.

If your loved one has an illness that affects certain organ systems, he may be placed on a diet that restricts certain nutrients or fluids. Diets may also be prescribed for weight management, food allergies, or to correct a nutritional deficiency. Chapter 12 describes several special diets and when they might be used:

  • Sodium-restricted (low-sodium) diet
  • Fluid-restricted diets
  • High potassium diets
  • Low-protein diet
  • Low-fat/low cholesterol diet
  • Modified calorie diet for weight management
  • Dietary management of ulcers
  • Dietary management of diabetes mellitus, including the non-concentrated sweets diet and exchange list diets
  • Liquid diets
  • Soft diet
  • Pureed diet
  • Thickened liquids, including three basic thickened consistencies

Chapter 12 of Caregiving at Home explains why elderly people are at greater risk of food-borne illness and how to prepare and store food safely. It explains why unintended weight loss is such a serious problem and offers guidelines to prevent unintended weight loss. This chapter also tells you how to assist your loved one with eating while still preserving independence and dignity.