To mitigate the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), nursing homes are following the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines and are not allowing communal dining, group activities, and only essential visitors are allowed.
A study was conducted on data analysis of nursing home resident weights from a single 240-bed non-profit nursing home located in a suburban area, using all residents with at least 1 weight measurement per month from December 2019 through April 2020. For residents with multiple weight measurements in a month, a calculation of an average value for the month was used. A clinically significant weight change episode was ≥ 5% within a 30-day period or ≥ 10% within a 180-day period based on the definition in the Minimum Data Set.
The random effect for the nursing home restrictions indicated that responses varied significantly between people however, a significant weight loss occurred among nursing home residents in the month following the implementation of restrictions on visitors and group dining due to COVID-19. We all know that social distancing slows disease spread but it can also have unintended consequences and adverse physical health effects that impact vulnerable older adults.
We need to be diligent about weight monitoring and enriching care plans with nutritional and physical activity interventions. We should also train and engage staff on meal assistance to include administrative and activity staff. Remember, loneliness often leads to depression and depression often results in weight loss. Keep your residents engaged, try “doorway dining” so residents can see each other. Be innovative! Stay the course, stay strong, stay well, mask up and stay tuned!