Nursing home

The Rising Rates of Obesity and Nursing Home Care

It’s no secret that waistlines are growing as the rates of obesity steadily rise. We know that these increasing rates are placing a strain on public health, but how is it affecting care?

It’s obvious that age increases the risk of various health ailments, however, obesity is creating a greater strain on nursing home care. Long-term facilities, such as nursing homes, are becoming overwhelmed and in reality, they’re unprepared to care for increasing groups of obese patients.

The concern is that the population is shifting more rapidly than nursing homes can deal with. There doesn’t currently appear to be enough staff, knowledge, or equipment available. As rates of obesity have risen over the past decade, it’s expected that this trend will continue into the future. In fact, Canadian obesity rates have shockingly tripled in the last 30 years and this isn’t something that should be ignored, especially regarding care options.

Many nursing homes are viewed as businesses by their owners and operators, who are concerned that this trend is reducing their profits. Although this is their concern, the public should be much more worried about these trends – both in terms of their personal health and the ways in which care is changing within these facilities.

Across the United States, nursing homes have repeatedly declined hospital referrals in terms of obese patients. Of course, this is causing issues within hospitals as they are then faced with a dilemma when safely discharging their patients. In fact, a director of case management stated that, “it’s not uncommon to make between 30 and 40 referrals before a patient is accepted for placement.”

This is creating issues in the present, as well as concerns for the future. As the elderly population is expected to exponentially grow, how will care be affected? It’s concerning enough that there will be so many to care for, but when you add issues surrounding obesity, there will be an even greater strain placed on these care facilities.

Scientific review – The high price of obesity in nursing homes

When examining the literature, 46 articles were examined regarding obese nursing home patients. Published throughout Care Management Journals, it was found that obesity is increasing across the globe amongst all age groups. In turn, older adults are facing more health challenges due to obesity-related complications.

Not only are these adults more prone to health issues, they’re also more likely to require nursing home care. The truth is, there are more obese individuals now than ever before, and future generations are expected to be in even worse shape. It’s clear that there’s a current gap within nursing home care and this is something that needs to be highlighted.

Not only do new policies need to be created, but the public needs to take on their own role – taking responsibility for these current and expected future trends. As many obese patients have stated, the rejection and lack of care they receive is extremely damaging. Just as you would not want this to be the case for yourself, encourage your loved ones to also make healthier choices. This is especially true regarding younger generations, they need positive role models.

If more efforts were made to educate the public about living a healthier, more balanced lifestyle, the prevalence of many related diseases would also decrease. Never before have we seen so many individuals suffer from diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, and numerous other serious conditions which are all directly linked to our modern lifestyles and weight.

For those who require care, in-home professional caregivers can provide a well-structured plan to both motivate the individual and care for them. Treating obesity requires plenty of knowledge and patience, however, once you do lose weight, you will experience an increase in energy levels and a reduction in pain.

One of the key concerns regarding nursing home care is that more often than not, there’s a budget and cost-effective foods are selected. When feeding in volume, fresh whole food meals aren’t always provided. It’s important to remember that nutrition can be just as effective as pharmaceuticals, without experiencing any associated side effects.

Of course, some medications are required, however, when a balanced diet plan is put into effect, conditions such as hypertension, prediabetes, and high cholesterol could all be targeted, reducing one’s reliance on various medications in the future. You or your loved one could work with a nutritionist within your home, then gain the support of a compassionate caregiver in terms of all other care needs.

Making this decision could essentially reduce one’s risk of early mortality. There are things you can do, starting today. If you have a loved one who is currently obese and living within a long-term care facility, inquire and ask questions. On the other hand, if you are considering the placement of your loved one, it’s important to weigh up all your options.

To find out more, visit the Canadian Obesity Network – or contact us to better understand what it is your loved one would require when setting up an effective in-home care plan based on their specific needs.

photo credit: Chairs via photopin (license)