The Importance of Nutrition for Older Australians

By 7th October, 2019 Community, Health, Helpful Information Comments Off

A look into how nutrition for older Australians guarantees better health in aged care and how to promote this.

This article will talk about:

  • 1. Nutrition & Dementia
  • 2. Nutrition & Dignity
  • 3. Nutrition & Mental Health
  • 4. Nutrition & Weight Loss + Injury Prevention
  • BONUS! Quick Summary
Nutrition in aged care is an essential part of ensuring a healthy mind and body for older Australians.

Eating right is a fundamental part of our health, and it becomes even more important so as we grow older. It takes up a large portion of our day and has a huge influence on our physical and mental health.

So, here are the ways in which food can affect the lives of older Australians and ways to promote it.

1. Nutrition & Dementia

As they say – healthy body, healthy mind!

General health is becoming a critical part of tackling dementia, and that includes what people are eating as well.

Avoiding fatty or sugary foods that cause high cholesterol levels or blood pressure is very important to maintaining a healthy heart and mind and reducing the chances of strokes and heart attacks that can deteriorate brain health.

Older Australians with dementia or other diagnoses can also be at risk of becoming malnourished. It is vital to be aware of issues that may occur when looking after them. People living with dementia at home can often forget mealtimes, and what they have eaten before. They can develop problems chewing or swallowing their food and even be unable to recognise food and drinks they are given. These factors can lead to further deterioration of health and mental functioning.

However, aged care facilities are able to recognise the extra care needed to support residents with dementia.

  • There plenty of training programs – like Dementia training Australian – available to educate staff and carers about what they should expect and know to watch out for.

2. Nutrition & Dignity

Food (while being delicious and nutritious!) presents an opportunity to promote the dignity and independence of older Australians.

Older Australians in carer situations can suffer loss of independence during meal times with carers scheduling strict eating times, serving food that people need assistance eating or simply cooking something they do not like.

However, food provides opportunities for celebration and socialization that contributes to a lot to how we live our lives. There are plenty of ways to do this for residents in carer situations.

  • Make mealtimes more warm and casual by allowing people the time and space they want during their meals.
  • Creating a friendly eating environment means that people are likely to sit for longer and eat more. This will help avoid issues like malnourishment
  • Do not restrict food to set meal times, and have food available at all times. Small snacks like fruit, muesli bars, and yoghurt should be made accessible for whenever people are hungry (and avoid older residents becoming irritable and ‘hangry’).
  • Promote independence at mealtimes by providing finger food for those who are struggling with cutlery. This will give people the ability to feed themselves instead of needing their carers to assist them. It is important that people have the option to do things for themselves for as long as possible

Use these times to ensure dignity and choice so mealtimes can become empowering for those involved.

Good nutrition and simple food choices can be empowering for older Australians in aged care and care situations.

3. Nutrition & Mental Health

Malnourishment can often lead to lower energy levels in older Australians, causing less engagement with daily activities and social interaction. All of this can affect overall mental health, including links to anxiety and depression.

 However, the solution can be as simple as having a nice meal with friends and family.

  • Have special ‘food events’ at home that spice up routine meal plans. This can be for a birthday or even national food-themed nights and is an excellent way to encourage eating. It establishes a festival mood and creates a more enthusiastic kitchen.
  • Buffet food is an exciting way to offer people freedom of choice with what they want to eat.

4. Nutrition & Weight Loss + Injury Prevention

It is very common for older Australians to lose weight when aging in a carer situation. Unfortunately, there is a cultural belief that this weight loss is normal – or even desired – for older Australians.

However, once an older person becomes malnourished it becomes more difficult for them to recover to a state of health.

Malnourishment can severally impact the everyday lives of residents. It increases the risks of falls, pressure ulcers, and even delirium. It slows down the healing process for injury recovery. And it can further degrade the lifestyle of residents already living with disabilities and dementia.

There needs to be an overall culture change when caring for the aged in order to tackle the issue.

  • Watch and become familiar with the amounts people in your care are eating and see if this is enough to ensure their health. Pay attention to make sure that they are receiving proper nutrition and food intake.
  • Consult the older person, other members of family or dieticians. Decide the best approach to take together and create a strategy that works for everyone involved.

At no point should anyone be ‘force-feed’ or pressured to eat more. It is vital that you make sure to always respect the independence of residents.

This creates a non-invasive way to approach the issue and steer behaviour towards more beneficial ones, not just tackling the issue superficially, but getting the support of family and friends for a better solution.

Promoting nutrition within aged care will involve a culture change within the kitchen.

BONUS! Quick Summary

For those who are time-poor (or skim reading), here is a quick summary of what carers can do to promote nutrition.

  • Talk to the person, ask them what type of food they want to eat and when they want to eat it. This will help establish their independence and exercise their freedom of choice which will improve their lifestyle as a whole.
  • Talk to friends and families, this is a good way of establishing what their old eating habits were like and detecting any major changes.
  • Consult dieticians, sometimes a professional voice is best when it comes to health. This is especially true if there are any dietary requirements or if injury recovery is involved.
  • Include buffet food, this does not have to be an everyday thing, but an occasion buffet selection allows older persons ultimate freedom in the food they are eating.
  • Make meals more social, by making mealtimes more friendly and engaging people are more likely to sit for longer and eat more. Consider having carers, family or friends join and sit with the person to build relationships and create a friendly eating environment.
  • Include finger foods, for those living with dementia and other cognitive disabilities, this is a way to retain independence when tools like knives and forks can’t be used
  • Celebrate birthdays and festivals with food, a nice way to ensure that food becomes something fun for older Australians and those cooking. Party occasions also are a nice way to diversify food menus and mix up routine menus.

If you want any more information, there are some great tips for promoting health and dignity with food from the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

Art Therapy Fundraiser a Success!

Some of the beautiful works by our residents across Twilight!

Over $2K worth of cognitive art therapy funds were raised in our Senior Art Exhibition at Glades Bay Gardens last October.

The art show was created by our residents from across all of Twilight Aged Care and included gorgeous works from water colour to gold leaf. The canvases were sold to support creative programs held fortnightly by Art-Based Cognitive Therapy for those living in the residential homes.

Julianne Walker, our volunteer and project coordinator, said that the exhibition was a success in more than one way. The show raised over $2,262 for the art therapy and connected the residents to the local community while positively stimulating and engaging them.

Dementia is the single largest cause of disability for older Australians. Over half of the residential age care population is living with dementia. It affects three in 10 Australian’s over the age of 85 and one in 10 Australians over 65.

Art therapy has been seen to reduce the effects of dementia and improve wellbeing and motor functions. The process of making the artworks has been greatly beneficial to those living at Twilight Aged Care and engaged residents cognitively and technically.

Julianne said that art therapy provides great enjoyment for the residents living with dementia, and those suffering from depression and anxiety.

She has stated that having this program across the Twilight homes provides a “sense of community”. Select artworks from the exhibition are now proudly decorating the homes in a permanent in-house collection.

Julianne is now busy planning for the next art show in October 2019, and says she expects it to be even bigger and better!


By 16th July, 2013 News No Comments

130715 Site Establishment 2

It has been a busy time at Glades Bay Gardens with the commencement of our major development program on 1 July. We commenced setting up the site with the delivery of site sheds, clearing of trees and the old tennis court surface and fencing the construction zone. Visitors will know that parking space is limited and with the establishment of the construction zone parking space has further reduced. For the duration of the building program we are asking staff and visitors to park on the street, rather than on site. We need to ensure that emergency vehicles, service and building materials delivery can enter the site at all times.

In the last week we commenced in earnest with some demolition of concrete. This was a very noisy exercise and we appreciate the patience of everyone at the home while this was done. Fortunately the worst of the demolition is now over.

We have established temporary dining space in the former lounge. Visitors will notice that the offices and hairdressing salon the the old dining room have been partitioned off and are now part of the building site. The office is now located in Apartment 39 on Level 4. You might also notice that there are lots of cabling running across ceilings. We have temporarily relocated all our communication equipment out of the building zone that that we can maintain our telephone and computer systems.

From the week beginning 22 July we will see the commencement of ground works for footings and foundations. Through out August and into September we will see the building taking shape. Like us on FaceBook to get regular updates and photo notifications to your wall.


By 28th May, 2013 News No Comments

Commencing Monday 3 June 2013, the work is expected to last for 12 weeks. During that time we will be installing pipe work throughout the building, sprinkler heads into each resident bedroom and  bathroom and dining rooms. We will try to minimise disruptions to residents, however we will need to temporarily move residents out of their rooms for up to two days each while we install the pipe work and sprinkler heads. Our facility manager Jose Rigor will liaise with families about the moves as they are identified. The project team is meeting each week on site to plan the work for the week and to manage any impact on residents, staff or families.

Our construction manager has presented us with a safety management plan for the site. All contractors coming on to the site will have Police and identity checks. We are fortunate that the Construction Manager, Safin Pty Ltd, has worked with us before and built the beautiful staircase enclosure in 2011.   Superior Fire Solutions, the specialist installer, has also worked with us before  carrying out the monthly maintenance  of our fire safety equipment. Both Safin and Superior are familiar with working in operating aged care environments.

If you would like more information or raise an issue in respect of the work being undertaken please  contact Jose Rigor at Glengarry.



By 14th May, 2013 News No Comments

The project is about to commence at Glengarry in Mosman.  We have taken a construction management approach to complete this work, first tendering for a construction manager to coordinate the works and undertake any building work in connection with the installation of fire sprinklers, and then tendering for a specialist firm to install the sprinkler infrastructure and commission the system. We are delighted that Safin Pty Ltd are the construction managers and Superior Fire Solutions are the specialist installers.

The project has been refined over the planning period. Retrofitting sprinklers in an existing operational facility is a complex undertaking. How we will progress the work, including architectural and operational requirements has been refined and with the assistance of Superior Fire Solutions we have simplified the some elements of the design. Total project cost is $250,000. We estimate the project will take 12 weeks from commencement.

Every effort will be made to minimise disruption to residents. We will have to temporarily accommodate residents in alternate rooms at the home while water pipes and sprinkler heads are installed. We will be meeting each Monday with the construction manager and specialist installer to coordinate work for the week. We will also update progress on this blog