Nutrition Is Essential After Hospitalization

By Kiana Ward, RDN, LDN |

The risk of malnutrition often occurs even before hospital admission. More than one-third of patients are malnourished when they enter the hospital. Unsurprisingly, malnutrition can negatively affect clinical outcomes and increase costs.

Signs of Malnutrition

  • Unplanned weight loss – This is usually a muscle loss, not fat. 
  • Chronic illness – Those on special diets for diabetes and hypertension may need help managing their diets. 
  • Recent hospitalization – Lack of appetite is common after an illness or injury. They may not feel like eating or have the energy to cook.

Older adults who are malnourished face several risks:

  • Increased risk of pressure ulcers
  • Decreased wound healing
  • Higher rates of infection
  • More hospital readmissions and higher healthcare costs

Malnutrition is a significant concern for older adults, and it can further exacerbate health conditions and delay recovery. Proper nutrition helps to prevent malnutrition and its associated complications. 

Food as Medicine

A nutrition care plan can be like medicine for those suffering from a chronic condition or recovering from an illness or surgery. Individuals with diabetes and cardiac conditions must adhere to diets low in sugar, fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Nutrition plays a vital role in managing these conditions, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels, maintain cardiovascular health, and regulate blood pressure. 

Adequate nutrition supports brain health and cognitive function. Good food can improve mood, energy levels, and physical function, enabling adults to engage in activities they enjoy and maintain independence. 

Referring your members to a home-delivered meal provider will help ensure they eat nutritious meals. Medically tailored meals after hospitalization can help reduce malnutrition and improve results in managing chronic diseases and conditions. Post-discharge meals significantly impact both short-term recovery rates and the long-term health of members.

Six out of eight studies found that home-delivered meals significantly improved diet quality, nutrient intake and reduced food insecurity and nutritional risks among participants. 

To learn more, download our white paper, Reduce Healthcare Costs and Improve Patient Outcomes with Post-Discharge Meals.