Articles and Information from GA Foods

Can Home-Delivered Meals Improve Your HCAHPS Score?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Feb 15, 2017 12:00:00 PM

Hospital-Post-Discharge-Meals.jpgThe Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is the survey used to measure patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience. The survey asks discharged patients 32 questions about their recent hospital stay. Patient perceptions and experiences directly impact your facility’s Medicare reimbursement

Patient satisfaction is a top priority. You can no longer focus only on patient procedures, diagnoses, and outcomes. You must consider how pleasant and comfortable the patients’ hospital stay is.

A positive hospital-patient relationship can instill trust and loyalty, which results in higher HCAHPS scores. A hospital’s reputation in the community may influence consumers, who have choices in their healthcare. It’s estimated that 67 percent of patients select where they want to go for medical care. 

Shifting Priorities

 “The patient experience in healthcare is ultimately the human experience," states Jason Wolf, PhD., president of the Beryl Institute. Research from the Beryl Institute shows: 

  • Patient experience remains a top priority around the world and throughout the continuum of care. 
  • Organizations are investing in providing a great experience for patients.  Currently, 42 percent of healthcare institutions have a chief experience officer role. In 2013, that number was only 22 percent, and the trend is growing. 

In 2013, one of the main goals of hospitals was to reduce noise. The focus has shifted now to making the following top priorities:

  • Service
  • Communication
  • Patient voice
  • Compassion
Hospital employee engagement programs are growing. Engaged employees are a key factor in driving a positive patient experience.  Every interaction with a patient matters. 

Care Transitions

Your transitional care plan can add to the positive experience for your discharged patients. The HCAHPS survey includes questions relating to care transitions:

During my hospital stay, staff took my preferences and those of my family or caregiver into account in deciding what my health care needs would be when I left.

Some things to consider before your patients return home: 

Will your patients have access to nutritious meals at their home? Weight loss and poor nutrition intake can delay the healing and recovery process. This could result in longer, more challenging recoveries, and in many cases, relapse and readmission.

Do patients have family members to assist with grocery shopping and preparing hot meals? Preparing meals can be difficult for those recovering from a hospitalization, surgery, or illness.

When I left the hospital, I had a good understanding of the things I was responsible for in managing my health.

Patients will have a more positive experience of their stay if they feel the hospital still cares about them after they are discharged.

Are they aware of any dietary restrictions they may have?

Does their health plan include a post-discharge home-delivered meal benefit? If it doesn't, many hospitals are now providing meals post hospital discharge. This benefit is another way to boost the patient experience. Post-hospitalization programs that include the management of nutritional status and depression may reduce hospital readmissions. 

Nutrition care is a key component to improving patient outcomes. Malnutrition is one of the greatest contributors to hospitalizations and readmissions. 

Home-delivered meals can help extend a positive experience beyond your facility. Patients who receive home-delivered meals after hospitalization regain their strength and energy faster. Well-nourished post-discharge patients are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge.

Providing post-discharge meals can help ensure a smooth transition from hospital to home. 

Download White Paper: Transitional Care: Is Your Model Missing a Key Component?  

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Healthcare Cost Reduction, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, Post Discharge

Beyond the Sneaker - Home-Delivered Meals

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Feb 8, 2017 11:00:00 AM


Silver Sneaker.pngSeniors have many choices when selecting Medicare Advantage health plans. Many plans include supplemental benefits like vision, dental, and fitness plans.

But, what do seniors really want from their health plans? They want benefits that help them maintain their independence and stay in their own homes. For many seniors, preparing meals after a hospitalization may be difficult. Many don’t have families who are nearby.

What do Members Look for in Supplemental Benefits?

In today’s market you need to ensure you’re providing the best member experience – while keeping an eye on the bottom line.

  • Home-delivered meals can reduce hospitalizations by 50 percent.
  • Members who receive home-delivered meals after a hospital stay regain their strength and energy faster.
  • Studies show nutrition assistance like home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls in the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.

Members like having a home-delivered meal benefit. In fact, 92 percent of home-delivered meal recipients report this benefit gives them the independence they want.

Nutrition care, in the form of home-delivered meals after a hospitalization or as part of chronic disease management, maximize member outcomes, while reducing healthcare costs.

Nutrition care:

  • Promotes faster, more complete recoveries
  • Reduces risk of complications
  • Provides crucial support to patients with poor access to healthy foods
  • Improves overall health and quality of life
  • Decreases odds of further hospitalizations due to injury
  • Enhances management of chronic diseases

Home-delivered meals can help improve patient outcomes after an acute stay. Members with chronic illnesses will appreciate the ease and convenience that home-delivered meals provide.

Home-Delivered Meals Can Improve Star Ratings

Offering home-delivered meals as a benefit may lead to more satisfied members. This benefit may mean better star ratings for your plan. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will use 2017 star ratings to determine the bonuses it will pay to insurers in 2018.

McKinsey & Co. determined the top three domains that influenced scores. Take a look at how home-delivered meals can help boost your ratings:

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Health plans that added post-discharge meals and chronic disease management meals to their supplemental benefits saw a 3:1 return on investment.

Offer your members a benefit that will make your plan standout from the rest!

  Download White Paper - Reduce Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes with Post Discharge Meals


    

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Medicare, Medicaid, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Senior health plans

Can Home-Delivered Meals Attract Members to Your Health Plan?

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Jan 6, 2017 9:59:35 AM

Baby Boomers.jpgNo one does their homework before buying better than a baby boomer. Just like buying a car or shopping online, when faced with the decision to select their health plans, research is a top priority.

Before choosing a Medicare Advantage plan, today's seniors are exploring all of their options. They take their time to compare healthcare plans and ask their friends and neighbors for recommendations. 

Today's Seniors Want More
Health plans with dental, vision, and gym membership benefits are more attractive to baby boomers. Boomers know that eating healthy and staying active are ways to prevent chronic health conditions. They are a generation of optimism, exploration, and achievement. Health and wellness, community involvement, and individual choice are key values. And they know eating well can help them to stay active. 

Baby boomers understand the importance of good nutrition. Home-delivered meals can make a benefit package more desirable. Sixty-five percent of boomers say they are living in the best homes of their lives and plan to stay. Their goal is to remain independent in their homes. Ninety-two percent of home-delivered meal recipients report this benefit gives them the independence they want.

Why Home-Delivered Meals?

Up to 60 percent of older adults may become malnourished during their hospitalization, which can lead to increased readmissions.  Preparing meals can be difficult for those recovering from a hospitalization, surgery, or illness.

  • Adequate nutrient intake through meals help seniors regain their strength faster.
  • Studies show nutrition assistance like home-delivered meals can reduce the occurrence of falls of the frail and elderly by up to 60 percent.
  • Weight loss can result in a 26 percent increase of the risk for hospital readmissions.   

Meals as a Benefit

Adding a home-delivered meal benefit to your plan will help you attract more members. And healthier members leads to reduced healthcare costs. Check back next week for an article on improving your star ratings! 

Download our eBook for more information.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Medicare, Medicaid, Healthy Meals for Seniors, Senior health plans

5 New Year's Resolutions Caregivers Should Not Make

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Dec 29, 2016 2:00:00 PM

 

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  1. The New Year provides an opportunity for new beginnings! The secret of making resolutions is to keep them reasonable. Don't place unreachable goals on yourself. Think of things you can do to change for the better and to make your life easier.

    Resolve for 2017 to take better care of you! To keep more balance in your life, here are five things you shouldn’t do:

    1. Over Schedule Your Time. 

  2. It’s important to not let others take advantage of your time and kindness. Schedule time to enjoy hobbies and pursue your interests. Consider finding a reliable person a few hours a week to provide respite care, giving you some free time. Professional respite care is also available for longer periods of time. Providing companionship for your loved one will give you a break, making you a better caregiver.

    2. Neglect Your Friends.

  3. Caregivers need to maintain a network of support and friendship. Friends can offer words of encouragement, and provide a sympathetic ear. They may also gain wisdom from your caregiver experiences. Activities with friends such as taking a walk, meeting for coffee, or just talking can provide a fresh perspective.

    3. View Everything As A Chore. 

  4. Caregiving will become less of a burden and more about spending time together if you connect with your loved one. Ask them about their life experiences, including the joys and the struggles. Sharing memories and family history will strengthen your connection and enrich your life.

    4. Do Everything Yourself. 

  5. Review what tasks you can outsource or delegate. Hire a cleaning or yard service to provide more free time. If you spend a lot of time preparing meals for your care recipient, consider home-delivered meals. There are local agencies (check Eldercare.gov) that offer home-delivered meals targeted for seniors. Many Medicaid and Medicare health plans cover the expense of home-delivered meals.

    5. Forget to Reward Yourself.  

  6. Being a devoted caregiver doesn't mean forgetting about your needs. Eating well and getting enough sleep aren’t luxuries! Besides staying healthy, it’s necessary to feel good about yourself. Visit your hair stylist, manicurist, or spa to look and feel your best. A well-deserved treat makes for a happier you!

    Congratulate yourself on all the things you do each day! 

  7. Wishing you a Happy New Year from the GA Foods family.

    Want to learn more about caregivers? Download our free infographic.

Profile of a Caregiver

 

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Topics: Home Delivered Meals, Senior Health, Caregivers, Healthy Meals for Seniors

10 Ways to Prepare Aging Adults for Winter Weather

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Dec 8, 2016 11:00:00 AM

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Extreme weather conditions like snow, ice, and heavy rain make the winter months a challenging time, especially for seniors and their caregivers. Winter storms make traveling difficult, and many businesses close temporarily. In order to make winter storms less stressful, we’ve created a list of 10 ways caregivers can prepare aging adults for winter weather. 

Click here to download our winter preparation tip sheet and emergency information checklist.

1. Schedule an appointment to have the heating system inspected. Many people neglect regular maintenance checks on their heating and air-conditioning systems. If the seniors you care for own their home, schedule an annual maintenance appointment to have the heating system inspected. Schedule the appointment before the winter season begins so that all issues can be taken care of while the weather is still warm. Ask the maintenance person to check for insulation leaks and poor ventilation in addition to inspecting the heating system. These small issues can lead to larger problems if they are not properly handled.

2. Purchase extra winter clothing and blankets, if needed. Severe winter storms can cause power outages, which means that those you care for will need to bundle up indoors. Make sure they are equipped with jackets, hats, gloves, and warm socks. It is also a good idea to have blankets in the rooms where those you care for like to spend most of their time. This way blankets are easily available to them wherever they are in house.

3. Stock-up on medications and medical devices. Make sure the aging adults you're caring for have at least a seven-day supply of their medications. Keeping a list of their medications along with the dose, frequency, and contact information for their prescribing doctors and pharmacists is a great resource to have when preparing for winter storms. It is also a good idea to keep back-ups of wheel chair batteries, oxygen, and other medical devices. 

4. Place emergency supplies in an easy-to-access place. Planning for a power outage during winter storms is very important. Have a discussion with the seniors you care for to decide the best place to store emergency supplies, including batteries, a radio, and flashlights. Store the emergency supplies in an easy-to-access and central location in the house. Also, stock up on extra toiletries like toilet paper, toothpaste, and hand soap.

5. Keep an extra supply of shelf-stable meals handy. Ensure the pantry is well stocked with canned items and other foods with long shelf lives that do not require refrigeration. Consider signing the seniors you're caring for up for a home-delivered meals program. Meal providers, such as GA Foods, deliver shelf-stable meals to the home...even during bad weather!

6. Winterize all vehicles. It is best to avoid driving during storms. However, if the aging adult in your care must travel, make sure their car is winterized. Take their car to the mechanic to have it inspected. Check the antifreeze levels, make sure the heater and defroster are working properly, put winter tires on the car, and store an emergency kit containing a windshield scraper, hats, mittens, a blanket, jumper cables, food, water, and a shovel, in the back seat.

7. Educate your members on heating their home and potential fire hazards. Make sure the people you are caring for feel comfortable operating their heating system. If they struggle to remember the steps, write down instructions on a sheet of paper and tape it on the wall near the thermostat. If they tend to be extra chilly during the winter months teach them how to use their space heaters and fireplaces, if they have them. Find a good place to put the space heater so that it is not near any curtains or other objects that could be a potential fire hazard.

8. Create an emergency contact list. Winter storms and severe weather conditions can lead to road closures and fallen trees and power lines, making it difficult to check in on the seniors in your care. Get to know their neighbors. Make a contact information sheet with friends and family who live close by, as well as neighbors. You may also consider giving a few trusted friends or neighbors a key to their home to check in on them in the event that you cannot.

9. Plan for the animals. If the seniors you're caring for have animals, make sure they have enough food and medications for their pets as well. Research volunteer organizations close by; some cities have volunteer organizations that help seniors take care of their animals.

10. Store road salt in the garage. Black ice lingers long after winter storms pass. Regularly check to make sure the driveway and sidewalks around the senior's home have been salted, especially if they walk outside to get their mail, so they don't slip and fall. 

Winter storms can happen without warning. Be prepared and eliminate unnecessary stress by downloading our prepartion tip sheet, contact and medication information chart, and winter weather supplies checklist. 

Prepare for Winter Weather

 

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Topics: Senior Health

Does Being a Caregiver Keep You Up at Night?

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Dec 5, 2016 2:49:28 PM

Caregivers

Caregiving is demanding. Whether you live next-door or 1,000 miles away, it is challenging. It is estimated there are over 34 million people providing unpaid care to ill, disabled, and elderly adults. Caregiving can range from social calls to your uncle to providing direct medical care for a parent. Not knowing how to navigate through the responsibilities can make you feel helpless.

Tips for Caregivers

As a caregiver, you are not alone. Here are some tips to assist you:

Allow your loved ones to make their own decisions regarding their care, if they are able. Cognitive changes are normal as people age, causing older adults to be slower in processing information and making decisions. However, that doesn’t mean they are incapable. Include them in all discussions about their health and care needs.

Hire a geriatric care manager. Most are licensed social workers or nurses and are trained to identify the care needs of older adults, and help families put together a plan. Their goal is to improve the quality of life for the older adult and help them live as independently as possible. To find a care manager, click here.

Enlist others to help. With your loved ones, make a list of the tasks they need assistance with such as mowing the lawn, shoveling the sidewalk, or grocery shopping. Friends, neighbors, or community organizations might be able to support them with these tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help; you don’t know who is willing unless you ask. Also, your local agency on aging might be able to provide resources for you. www.Eldercare.gov can direct you to the correct agency. Provide everyone with your contact information, so they can reach you if they have any concerns.

Arrange for a home health aide. Aides can help with personal care, homemaking chores, and even health care. Often these services are paid for by government agencies or health insurance.

Consider home-delivered meals. Good nutrition improves the overall health and quality of life for seniors. Studies have shown that home-delivered meals reduce the risk of hospitalizations and defers nursing home placement. Ninety-two percent of seniors receiving home-delivered meals, report these meals allow them to remain independent and living in their own home. Home-delivered meals may be available through the local agency on aging (www.Eldercare.gov) or provided as a benefit through your loved ones’ health plan.

Long-Distance Caregivers

Even if you are not the primary caregiver, there are still many responsibilities you can undertake. Offering emotional support to the primary caregiver as well as respite care will be appreciated. The primary caregiver may be hesitant to ask for help, so offer to pay bills, organize paperwork, or update family and friends. As a long-distance caregiver, you can also help the primary caregiver identify benefits and programs for which your loved one may qualify. The website, www.benefitscheckup.org, is a good place to start.

Caregiver Support Groups

You may benefit from joining a caregiver support group. Meeting other caregivers will help you identify resources and exchange ideas. Be sure to take care of yourself during this time. Read this article for more ideas and download our free caregiver eBook, A Caregiver’s Guide to Taking Care of You.

Profile of a Caregiver

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Topics: Senior Health, Caregivers, Care Managers

Developing an Attitude of Gratitude

Posted by Mary O'Hara on Nov 22, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Gratitude.jpgThanksgiving is the time of year when we express gratitude for all the good things in our lives. But did you know that there is scientific proof that maintaining an attitude of gratitudeall year long can be beneficial to your health?

According to Harvard Medical School, expressing thanks may be one of the simplest ways to feel better. Research conducted by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of University of Miami, revealed some compelling facts about the importance that gratitude plays in determining attitudes.

In the study, one group wrote about things for which they were grateful that occurred during the past week, while the second group listed things that had irritated or displeased them. After ten weeks, the group that listed things they were grateful for felt much more positive and had a better outlook on their lives. They also experienced fewer visits to the doctor than the group who focused on their irritations and negative interactions.

Other studies have looked at how gratitude can improve relationships. For example, a study of couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person, but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.

Appreciation of Others

We all experience stress in the workplace. Busy case managers and caregivers certainly have their share of work-related stress. People who spend a good amount of time caring for others may often neglect their own well being, and need to learn ways to enhance their sense of self.

Remembering to say “thank you” to others can go a long way in making somebody’s day. In fact, workers who receive appreciation from their managers on a regular basis report that they feel more motivated and positive about their jobs.

Benefits of Gratitude

There are many simple ways to develop a grateful attitude. Below are some scientifically proven benefits of gratitude:

  • Opens the door to more relationships
  • Improves physical health
  • Improves psychological health
  • Enhances empathy and reduces aggression
  • Better sleep
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Increases mental strength

Practice Thankfulness

Just like learning to replace unhealthy food choices with healthier options, we can also develop new habits to adapt our attitudes and cultivate gratitude. Here are some suggestions from Harvard:

Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person's impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person, if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.

Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.

Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you've received each day.

Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.

Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as "peace"), it is also possible to focus on what you're grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.)

Seeking Peace

Feeling grateful even for daily minor annoyances may be another way to deal with stress. For example, instead of being negative about a re-scheduled meeting, think of that extra time as an opportunity to give more thought about the contributions you can make or questions you may have during the meeting.

Small adjustments to one’s attitude can go a long way in seeking peace. According to an article by Anna Hart, “Replacing ‘I’m so stressed about this’ with ‘I’m so excited I get to do this’ has been a game changer for me….I think gratitude is an invaluable practice to any workplace since it also prevents us from taking co-workers for granted or harboring feelings of resentment,” she added.

Here at GA Foods, we are grateful to be of service to others, which is reflected in our core values of Touching Lives, Integrity, Trust, Ownership and Commitment.

As case managers and caregivers, you make many positive contributions everyday in helping others to live better lives and we are grateful for your dedication and commitment!

Happy Thanksgiving from the GA Foods Family!

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Topics: Senior Health, Caregivers, Healthy Meals for Seniors

Confessions from a Caregiver

Posted by Maureen Garner, MS, RD, LD on Nov 16, 2016 3:13:44 PM


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Pictured is Maureen and her children with her mother, Alice. (And by the way, it was Maureen's 43rd birthday!)

My Back Story

In 1992, we placed my dad in a long-term care facility. He was partially paralyzed from a stroke, and we couldn’t care for him at home. After a year of living apart from my dad, my mother asked to move in with me. Despite living in a senior living community, she was lonely. She was only 71-years old. She had some health issues and limited mobility, but she was completely independent. At the time, my husband and I had a 2-year old daughter and another baby on the way. I had a busy and demanding career. The thought of having another person in our home to help out was very appealing.

Download our free eBook, A Caregiver’s Guide to Taking Care of You

True Confessions

However, over the 18 years that she lived with us, her health steadily declined and she became more dependent. Fortunately, she was never to the point of needing help with activities like bathing or feeding, but we couldn’t leave her alone overnight. She needed us to drive her to doctors’ appointments. (No Uber, yet!) Simple activities like grocery shopping, attending church, or going out to dinner required wrestling her wheelchair into our car. We had to run her errands, like going to the bank or picking up prescriptions. There was constant fear that she would fall and break her hip. And she hated having to rely on us for everything.

Here is my confession – I didn’t make it easy for her. Between juggling my career, my family, and her needs, I was tired and exhausted. I resented her presence. Sometimes, I wanted to be alone with my husband and children for dinner. I wanted to be able to go away for a weekend with my family without having to make arrangements for my mom. I got tired of having to take time off work to take her to the doctor. And she knew how I felt about everything.

My mom never wanted to be a burden. So she asked a neighbor to take her shopping. She asked my kids to run her errands. She asked people from church to take her to the doctor. She visited my sister to give us time alone. And she tried to do anything she could to make life easier for me.

This made me feel guilty because now other people’s lives were being disrupted, not just mine. My neighbors, friends, and family shouldn’t be impacted to make my life easier. I should be able to do this on my own. She took care of me for over 18 years. As her daughter, it was now my responsibility to take care of her. And I could not have been more wrong.

No One is a Caregiver Superhero

My mom passed away five years ago after complications from hip surgery. (Yep, she fell and broke her hip.) I’ve had time to get some perspective, which leads me to my next confession – I’m not a caregiving superhero – actually no one is a caregiving superhero.             

Caregiving is hard. Caregiving comes from a place of love and can be rewarding, but it is hard. It is demanding. It is stressful. As a matter of fact, it is bad for your health. Studies have shown that caregivers are more likely to have a chronic illness than non-caregivers. Caregivers are at greater risk for depression and a decline in quality of life.

Caregivers aren’t limited to those caring for an aging, disabled, or ill family member. A caregiver can be a foster parent or a grandma raising her grandchildren. A caregiver can be a professional like a nurse, case manager, or social worker. A caregiver may provide full- or part-time care. They may live with the care recipient or provide care and support from a distance. The care may range from helping with tasks like shopping and cleaning to providing complex medical care.

The best advice I can give a caregiver is take care of yourself. Taking care of you isn’t selfish. It doesn’t mean you are a failure. It gives you the strength and energy needed as a caregiver. It actually helps you become a better caregiver.

I was fortunate -- I had great support from my sister. But if you or someone you know has caregiver burnout or is ignoring their own needs, download our free eBook, A Caregiver’s Guide to Taking Care of You.

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Topics: Senior Health, Caregivers, Care Managers

Managing Diabetes in Senior Adults

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Nov 2, 2016 11:06:13 AM

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When caring for seniors with diabetes, it is important to focus on nutrition. A diabetic diet needs to be packed with nutrient-rich foods including vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Having regular meal and snack times is also important in order to manage their blood glucose levels.

Since November is National Diabetes Month, now is the perfect time to discuss a consistent carbohydrate diet. This diet is one of the most effective meal plans for people with diabetes because it helps manage blood glucose levels, while giving seniors flexibility in meal planning. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy for metabolic functions and physical activities. Without them, the body cannot function.

Carbohydrates come in three forms: sugars, complex carbohydrates (starches) and fiber. It is important to understand the different types of carbohydrates in order to manage diabetes through diet. 

Sugars: Sugary carbohydrates are also known as simple or fast-acting carbohydrates. Sugar can be found naturally in fruits and milk, and as added sugar in desserts and refined grains.

Complex Carbohydrates:  Also known as starches, complex carbohydrates include potatoes, beans and whole grain foods such as oats, pastas and breads.

Fiber: Fiber is also a complex carbohydrate. It is found in plant foods including fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Foods with high fiber content are part of a healthy diet, because they help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

To learn about meal service providers for seniors with diabetes, click here.

What is the necessary carbohydrate intake?

The National Academies' Institute of Medicine recommends that adults should get 45 to 60 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates. This means that 900 to 1,300 calories should encompass carbohydrates for those eating a 2,000 calorie diet. Therefore, it is important to feed the body carbohydrates.

The necessary carbohydrate intake varies from person to person depending on age, weight, blood sugar and activity level. For example, seniors generally need fewer carbohydrates on a daily basis, as they are less active and their bodies metabolize more slowly. However, it is still important for seniors to maintain a consistent intake of carbohydrates in order to sustain their nutrient needs and regulate their blood sugar levels.  

Great ways to ensure seniors with diabetes are getting the correct amount and type of carbohydrates are creating a meal plan or using a food service provider that offers balanced meals. Having a set meal plan or using a food service provider also helps to avoid malnutrition.

What is a consistent carbohydrate diet?

A consistent carbohydrate diet is a meal plan that helps its users keep track of the carbohydrates they consume and stabilize their carbohydrate intake. The ultimate goal is to ensure every meal has the same carbohydrate count. This diet is effective for managing diabetes because it helps control blood sugar levels.

How does a consistent carbohydrate diet work?

When using a consistent carbohydrate meal plan, carbohydrates are counted in portion sizes (15 grams), also known as carb choices. The number of carb choices varies between individuals based on their health status, age or past eating habits. The number of carb choices also varies depending on whether users are eating a meal or a snack. Generally, meals should be between three and four carb choices while snacks should consist of approximately one to two carb choices. However, when caring for seniors with diabetes, individualized carb choice levels for meals and snacks may be necessary. 

How do I educate seniors with diabetes on a consistent carbohydrate diet?

Understanding how many carb choices foods have is the first step to being able to educate seniors on the consistent carbohydrate diet. Foods considered to have one carb choice include a slice of bread, a cup of milk or a small apple. For most manufactured foods, the carb choices are listed under the term "Total Carbohydrate" on the Nutrition Facts label. The “Total Carbohydrate" is listed in grams. Remember, 15 grams equals one carb choice. 

It is also important to read and understand the serving size on the Nutrition Facts label. The “Total Carbohydrate” section of the Nutrition Facts labels is based on one serving size. Therefore, eating three servings is triple the amount of carbohydrates.

Providing seniors with a consistent carbohydrate diet is one of the best ways to manage their diabetes. If seniors do not feel comfortable with preparing their own meals, suggest a food service provider, such as GA Foods, that uses registered dietitians to plan the meals. Having the experts plan and provide the meals takes all the guess work out of the equation.

Download 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home-Delivered Meals Provider

 

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Topics: Senior Health, Diabetes, Healthy Home Delivered Meals, Healthy Meals for Seniors

The Negative Effects of Added Sugar

Posted by Jessica Fleigle on Oct 26, 2016 12:44:53 PM

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There are two different types of sugar – naturally occurring sugar, found in fruits and vegetables, and added sugar, which comes in many forms including granulated sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose and fructose. The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and nine teaspoons for men. However, the average American greatly exceeds this maximum recommendation. Euromonitor, an international research company, revealed that Americans consume 126 grams (31.5 teaspoons) of sugar per day, which equals 101 pounds of granulated sugar annually!

Regularly consuming excessive amounts of added sugar negatively impacts the body’s ability to function properly, leading to poor health. This is especially true for senior citizens who have eaten diets filled with added sugars from a young age. Many seniors experience the negative effects of diets filled with excessive amounts sugar, as they find themselves struggling with diseases including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Due to the fact that many seniors rely on pre-portioned, convenience foods, it is important to research home-delivered meal providers to ensure the meals meet all DRI requirements, including the recommended sugar requirements.  

Click here to learn the impact sugar has on the body.

Effects on the Body

Added sugar has no nutritional value. It offers nothing but high-caloric, empty calories. Every teaspoon (4 grams) of sugar consumed equals 16 calories. Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor in the University of California and a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism, says that the body can safely metabolize six teaspoons of added sugar per day. However, most Americans are consuming an average of 31.5 teaspoons (126 grams) of sugar per day. Excess sugar turns into body fat, and has been linked to many of the chronic, metabolic diseases people are struggling with. These diseases include, but are not limited to, obesity, cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and dementia.

Obesity: The body stores excess sugar as body fat. This leads to weight gain, and can lead to obesity if excess sugar consumption becomes a repeated habit.

Cancer: The body uses glucose, a form of sugar, to generate energy. However, when too much sugar is ingested into the system, it can be dangerous. Cancerous cells feed on the excess sugar, which can cause tumors to grow.

Diabetes: After eating, the body converts food into glucose while the pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps glucose to get into the cells of the body where it can be used to make energy. With diabetes, the body may not make enough insulin, use the insulin in the right way, or both, causing blood sugar levels to be too high.

Heart disease: Consuming large amounts of sugar puts added stress on the heart, decreasing the muscle’s function and leading to heart failure and/or heart disease.

Dementia: Excessive sugar consumption also affects the brain. The brain responds to sugar in the same way it responds to other drugs, including cocaine and alcohol. Brain functions such as thinking, memory and learning are closely linked to glucose levels and how efficiently the brain uses this energy source.

Steps to Take to Prevent Excessive Sugar Consumption

It is important to be able to understand the different ways sugar is added into food and beverages. Healthcare providers, Area Agency on Aging (AAA) networks and Case Managers are great resources when looking for home-delivered meals, as their primary goal is to provide nutritious, well-balanced meals to seniors. There are a couple steps to take to ensure regulated, added sugar consumption.

First, look for meal providers that offer low sugar products. For example, GA Foods’ meals are low in sugar, sodium, fat and cholesterol. Partnering with companies that share the same values will make it easier to achieve the end goal, which is providing nutritious, well-balanced meals to seniors.

Second, check the Nutrition Facts label for added sugars. On May 20, 2016, the FDA announced updates to the Nutrition Facts label of packaged foods. One of these updates was listing “added sugars” in grams and as a percent Daily Value. Package updates are not required until 2018; therefore, the added sugar information may not be on all labels. However, companies should be able to provide the breakdown of naturally occurring sugar versus added sugar in their meals if the information is requested.

When it comes to senior nutrition, regulating excess sugar is crucial. Simple ways to guarantee healthier food choices are partnering with home-delivered meal providers who offer meals low in sugar and understanding the Nutrition Facts label.

To learn more about the impact that sugar has on the body, download our fact sheet.

Download Our Sugar Fact Sheet

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Topics: Senior Health, Healthy Meals for Seniors

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