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Nutrition and Hydration Awareness: Nutrition Care Alerts

Malnutrition is not a response to normal aging: it can arise from many causes. Its presence may signal the worsening of a life-threatening illness, and it should always be seen as a dramatic indicator of the risk of sudden decline in the elderly. Dehydration is a condition in which water or fluid loss far exceeds fluid intake. The body becomes less able to maintain adequate blood pressure, deliver sufficient oxygen and nutrients to the cells, and rid itself of wastes.

Regardless of the causes, early problem recognition can help to ensure appropriate and timely nutritional and or fluid intervention. For many residents, simple adjustments in feeding or drinking patterns may be sufficient. For others, compensation or correction for food and fluid intake problems may be required.

A Nutrition/Hydration Awareness Campaign has been developed to call attention to the early warning signs of unintended weight loss and dehydration among residents of long term care facilities. "Nutrition Care Alerts", present an easy to follow method of observing warning signs for unintended weight loss and dehydration and action steps that should be taken to avoid further progression of the condition.

"Nutrition Care Alerts" are designed to assist Certified Nurse Assistants in nursing homes in identifying residents who are at risk for malnutrition and dehydration. However, "Nutrition Care Alerts" can be used by family members, friends, and other caregivers of the elderly to help prevent unintended weight loss and dehydration.

Additonal information about Nutrition and Hydration Care can be viewed on www.cms.hhs.gov.

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Page Last Updated: August 3, 2012