Snacking – Of Course!

Angie Szumlinski News

Being a “snacker,” I wasn’t surprised when I read the results of a recent study published in Geriatric Nursing on the benefits of snacking! The purpose of the study was to identify nursing home residents’ snacking preferences and to evaluate whether we must do a better job at addressing the meaning of food and the individual needs of our residents.  

It is estimated that up to 50-60% of residents are malnourished or at-risk of malnutrition which is associated with increased mortality and morbidity. Residents at risk for nutritional deficits tend to have poorer psychological well-being, decreased quality of life, increased frequency and length of hospital stays, higher rates of rehospitalizations, infections, and depression. The study identified that more frequent, in-between meal snacks is a viable solution, however, accessibility as well as identifying resident preferences can be challenging. The nutritive and non-nutritive benefits of in-between meal snacking needs to be a part of each resident’s dietary care plan. With proper food selection, snacking can be a bridge between socialization, food memories, improved nutritional intake and, of course, food-related quality of life.  

So, how do we meet these needs realistically? Maybe it is time to address this with your quality assurance committee. Some centers are doing “continental breakfast bars” where breakfast is available for a long period of time each morning. Other centers are offering “snack carts” and “hydration carts” throughout the day. Let’s not forget the activity program, integrating nutritious snacks during activities is a no brainer! Take a look at your current dietary plan, if it isn’t meeting the individual needs of your residents or could be better, start a PIP, include some residents in the process and remember, happy tummy, happy resident! Stay well and stay informed!