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The choice in beverages could be updated

February 22, 2011
by Kathleen Mears
| Reprints

I think the average resident age here is about 55. Most of these residents eat and drink differently than older residents. Those who need to be observed at meals usually have to be prompted to drink their fluids.

At meal times coffee and tea are served in 5 oz. cups. To me the cups are small. But I was used to drinking tea from an 8 oz. mug at my previous facility. In the particular dining room where I eat there are no coffee or tea fill ups during meals because residents can get additional beverages at snack time.

Besides getting hot drinks with meals, the residents also get milk, a dietetic fruit drink (the ‘cool’ drink we made as kids), and water. Because of resident behavior problems and diabetes, sugar and caffeine are limited. Hot chocolate is not served—not even dietetic.

My previous nursing home served a similar fruit drink which I seldom drank. The lemonade was not bad but the other flavors tasted artificial to me. I realize the fruit flavored drinks are economical, provide some nutrition, and help a few residents drink more fluids. Though most residents do not complain about these drinks, one resident who has been here for six years says he is sick and tired of them.

The drink of choice here is most certainly pop. I have seen residents drinking it before breakfast. Some are definitely soft drink junkies. They like pop with sugar and lots of caffeine. So when they get to buy it themselves they get the “high test” kind. The diabetic residents also love pop. When they order out they are supposed to order sugar free. However, they don’t, and residents seldom order just a 12 oz. can with their meals. Some buy a 2-liter bottle. I would think drinking that much pop would give them a stomachache.

Residents can get dietetic, caffeine-free pop at snack time for $.25 a glass. The residents who cannot buy it get the fruit drink instead. There are certain occasions when pop is donated or the facility provides free pop or fruit juice. However, residents cannot buy pop from the vending machine in the building.

Some residents occasionally cajole an aide into buying them a can of pop. Other times they give aides money to pick them up a pack. The first time I had a queasy stomach and wanted some cola, I was surprised there was none available in dietary. Even though I understand the rule about us buying it from the vending machine, I think knowing I cannot buy it here makes me crave it. But I don’t drink that much pop anyway. I have herb tea and orange juice with breakfast, and the rest of the day I drink water. The only time I drink pop is when I go out to eat or when I have a visitor.

For the last year or so I have tried the flavored waters to get away from high-calorie pop. I think they are good and they do quench my thirst.

Maybe soon there will be more economical alternatives to the powdered fruit drink residents are served now. We certainly need a change to please the palate of younger nursing home residents.

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Comments

Its been the same in all the faciliies I have worked in. If a resident wants a cola or pop..it comes from the vending machine or visitor. Many of our LTC residents have their own mini frig in their rooms for this or use the pantry we have on our unit.

Cost is the main reason the food and drink is what it is. We mostly serve milk, coffe, tea and juice at meals. Not even real juice but it is one of the fruit aids.
As a staff member, when we have had a longer term resident that doesn't like the food/ drinks we offer we mention to the family that they can get a mini frig. Yeah, $$ is an issue, but I've looked on craigslist and we've either pitched as staff in or the family bought it. I've been known to look at garage sales for these too.

Are they a possibility in your facility?

Many times we see family members bring in gifts that residents really don't need or want. Sometimes we step in and let them know that mom or dad or uncle or aunt wouldn't mind some "good old food from home"

Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...