Individualized Nutrition Approaches for Adults in Health Care Communities

Volume 110, Issue 10, Pages 1554-1563 (October 2010)


It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) that the quality of life and nutritional status of older adults residing in health care communities can be enhanced by individualization to less-restrictive diets. The Academy advocates the use of qualified registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) to assess and evaluate the need for nutrition care according to each person's individual medical condition, needs, desires, and rights. Dietetic technicians, registered, provide support to RDNs in the assessment and implementation of individualized nutrition care. Individual rights and freedom of choice are important components of the assessment process. An RDN must assess each older adult's risks versus benefits for therapeutic diets. Older adults select housing options that provide a range of services from minimal assistance to 24-hour skilled nursing care. Food is an important part of any living arrangement and an essential component for quality of life. A therapeutic diet that limits seasoning options and food choices can lead to poor food and fluid intake, resulting in undernutrition and negative health effects. Including older individuals in decisions about food can increase the desire to eat and improve quality of life. The expansion of health care communities creates a multitude of options for RDNs and dietetic technicians, registered, to promote the role of good food and nutrition in the overall quality of life for the older adults they serve.

Erratum: Reviewer Kristin A. R. Gustashaw, MS, RD, CSG reviewed this paper on behalf of the Healthy Aging dietetic practice group. (Erratum is published in the December issue of the ADA Journal.)