My sister worked one summer at a camp for diabetic children. She was appalled at the improper diabetic nutrition served for both the meals and snacks served there. She ultimately became ill. Although she is not diabetic we were raised with an old age onset grandfather so we are familiar with healthy diets.
Her doctor explained to her that her illness was directly related to the nutritionaly deficient diet the camp diet presented both to her, the rest of the staff and to the diabetic campers. She was able to make corrections by bringing in her own supplements but her suggestions to the people running the camp fell on deaf ears. They were not concerned that their campers were suffering because these children would leave after 2 weeks although the staff remained all summer.
Not all nursing homes are at fault here, they have to meet a variety of dietary needs: low sodium diets, low sugar diets, softer diets, use of thickening agents, liquid diets, feeding tube diets. They are required to offer selections to the patients who may make wrong choices. But that is no excuse for permitting unhealthy nutrition.
Medicare makes limited requirements on their Nursing Home Checklist: Choice of food at meals, weight monitoring, plenty of water for hydration at meals and in-between. Nutritious snacks available, socialization at meal times, food must both look and smell good and be served at proper temperature, sufficient staff to assist patients.
Therefore it is incumbent upon family members to understand the type of diet which is important to the patient and to provide written instructions for the patient file.
It is also important to have the ability to speak to the doctors and nutritionists on behalf of the patient.
Stephenie described the healthy diet her mother had eaten all her life until admittance to the nursing home. There an unbalanced diet did far more harm than good. Stephanie does not want the staff to be upset with her and take retribution upon her mother. However, as she notes, the diet is killing her mother.
One way to begin is to have a dietary review by an outside and respected nutritionist. Those recommendations should be reviewed by her mother's neurologist and then presented to the nursing home.
If this is not the only nursing home in the area, begin interviewing other facilities.
There are so many potential issues at nursing homes that the actual diet becomes of lesser importance. And that should not be the case.
Given a choice, my husband who has Parkinson's would eat all the wrong foods at the wrong time. Although fava beans might seem to be a logical choice, I can't include it because there is no standardized way of determining the l-dopa content of a food product. He does get mucuna pruriens in a standardized dose along with 1/2 Sinemet (for the carbidopa) 2x a day. No protein meals accompany this medication. I also have to be careful of when he takes his vitamin B complex for the same reason. He just want certain foods when he wants them but that will not happen with this caregiver. Much more difficult in a nursing home setting.
We are now looking critically at the foods served in schools, why not at the other end of the spectrum?