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Managing food allergies and fluid restrictions in senior dining programs

Managing food allergies and fluid restrictions is essential for any nutrition care program—but it can be particularly challenging in senior living communities, where an estimated 25% of residents have a known food allergy. Add to that the need to maintain fluid balance in those with conditions like congestive heart failure, hypertension, pulmonary edema, or renal failure, and it quickly becomes apparent how much time it can take to identify, record, and manage food allergies and fluid restrictions to ensure resident safety.

Nutrition management software like MealTracker makes it easier to monitor and manage food allergies and fluid restrictions as part of your senior nutrition care program.

Allergen management and training

Prevention is worth an ounce of cure, as the saying goes. And to help ensure resident safety, senior care facilities are writing new policies to limit accidental allergen exposure during meal prep and meal service. These new procedures may include strategies like managing ingredient details, designating proper prep and storage of cooking utensils, detailing menu items to help residents make informed decisions, and evaluate label details based on the nine most common allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybeans, and sesame.

Staff training plays an important role when it comes to managing food allergies. Dietary managers and registered dietitians can provide food item training, and recipe and ingredient education to teams that prepare food. Teams need to know how to intervene in the event of an allergic reaction and be prepared to quickly respond. Resident education is also a key factor in prevention. Discussing food allergies and cross-contamination risks with residents may help curb food sharing and ensure residents understand seating arrangements.

Nutrition management software can help you create and maintain an allergy-safe dining program. A tool like MealTracker helps you leverage allergen data from your electronic health records and omit foods that present a high risk for your residents. You can easily access the Allergens information and use it to specify allergies and food allergens in resident profiles, avoid offering items during menu selections, and print known allergies on tray tickets. You can tag and identify foods containing a specific allergen and search recipes for food items that may trigger an allergic reaction.

How to manage fluid restrictions

Fluid restrictions may be ordered on a short-term or long-term basis to help maintain a resident’s fluid balance. A fluid-restrictive diet is often medically advised for residents with heart problems, renal disease, liver damage, endocrine and adrenal gland issues, other conditions.

Along with beverages, foods like gelatin, ice cream, yogurt, and soups contain fluids that must be considered as part of a fluid-restrictive diet. MealTracker helps you better manage and identify residents with a fluid restriction order.

You can add the amount of the fluid restriction in the resident profile, and it will be displayed when making food selections, running tray tickets, and generating reports. Staff can also access this information to plan and coordinate serving size for fluids and liquid-containing foods for daily resident meals.

Request a demo today to discover how MealTracker makes it easier to manage food allergies and fluid restrictions as part of your nutrition care program.



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Amy Wooton

Amy Wooton, RDN, is a registered dietitian licensed in the state of Florida with over 18 years of experience in clinical nutrition leadership for senior communities as well as acute care, food service management, nutrition informatics, and wellness education. Amy is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, was appointed Vice Chair on the Interoperability and Standards Committee, and is the leader of the Academy’s Nutrition Care Process Workgroup. Amy most recently accepted a Leadership Award from the Florida Academy of Dietetics. She has achieved years of diversified experience in all spectrums and disease improvement and prevention throughout each lifespan. Amy is a dedicated leader and is passionate about the success of nutrition interventions as an electronic solution to healthcare crises.

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