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Nutrition in the Older Person Part 3

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to

Strategies to improve nutrition in the elderly

 Alleviate Dry Mouth    

Avoid caffeine; alcohol; tobacco; and dry, bulky, spicy, salty, or highly acidic foods. If patient does not have dementia or swallowing difficulties, offer sugarless hard candy or chewing gum to stimulate saliva. Bioxtra® gels, mouthwashes and chewing gum are particularly effective at treating dry mouth. Keep lips moist with petroleum jelly (e.g.) Vaseline®. Encourage frequent sips of water.        

Improve oral intake

Aim to give the patient their favourite foods when possible. Small frequent meals with adequate nutrients can help patients regain or maintain weight. Provide nutritious snacks (e.g.) banana. If the patient uses dentures, ensure they are not causing pain and they fit correctly.

Provide conductive environment for meals for bedbound patients

If the patient is bedbound, remove bedpans and urinals from room before mealtime. If the patient is prescribed painkillers or anti sickness medication these should be taken in a manner that will diminish the likelihood of pain or nausea during mealtimes (check with your pharmacist). Serve meals to patients in a chair if they can get out of bed and remain seated. Create a more relaxed atmosphere by sitting at the patient’s eye level and making eye contact during feeding. Do not interrupt patients during mealtimes.

Oral Nutritional Supplements (ONS)


The type of ONS most commonly prescribed in the community is the "sip feeds", which include readymade milk-, juice- and yoghurt-based or savoury drinks. Other formulations available include dessert type products and powder supplements that are made up into a drink or added to drinks or food. These products contain different amounts and types of vitamins, minerals and/or macronutrients. Examples include Nutriplen®, Ensure Plus®, Fortisip® and Forticreme®.


Although ONS are widely used, currently the evidence base for their usage is poor. Long-term usage might result in reduced food intake. Food is the best vehicle for appropriate nutrient consumption. According to the National Medicines Information Centre in St James Hospital, Dublin, no studies have yet determined the optimum usage of ONS in terms of the most appropriate patients, the optimum dose and duration of use. Despite lack of evidence, ONS has a role in many circumstances. It is recommended that a patient is referred to a dietician before oral nutritional products are commenced.  


HELP is at hand

Maurice Looby Fitness launch a new comprehensive weight loss programme in association with Whelehans Pharmacy/Nutrition Clinic called HELP – HEATHY EATING & LIFESTYLE PROGRAMME, it starts from 9th January 2017 (but if you missed the start you can still join anytime for a full six-week course) and is outstanding value at €210.


This excellent 6-week package offers a detailed one to one initial consultation with nutritionist including a body analysis and an achievable plan specific to you followed by weekly one to one meetings.   You get a training plan also specific to you and the level you are at and unlimited classes with Maurice Lobby fitness.  There are also additional benefits when you sign up i.e. fitness testing and food intolerance testing at reduced rates.


To sign up for HELP with Maurice Lobby Fitness in association with Whelehans Pharmacy call 087 2308001 or apply online at today


New extended Whelehans nutrition service is a friendly, flexible and affordable service offering one to one consultations with follow up programmes and weekly monitoring.   Suitable for men, women and children. Call our Nutritionist Caroline Masters on 086-3994615 or email her at or call Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse Street on 044 9334591.

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