A Healthy Solution to Chronic Kidney Disease and Malnutrition in Retirees


According to VeroNews, one of the biggest issues at the retirement community Treasure Coast is malnutrition. For patients with other serious conditions, like chronic kidney disease, the hospital as well as the National Institutes of Health strongly recommends the program MNT, the hospital’s medical nutrition therapy program.

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease is essentially long lasting kidney damage that gets worse over time. As chronic kidney disease enters advanced stages, it causes the body to build up fluids (electrolytes and wastes) that it normally excretes, which leads to many other types of health complications. Typically, chronic kidney disease is caused by another condition that affects the kidneys, and the organs get worse from there. Some triggers include type 1 or type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, polycystic kidney disease, and more. There are many symptoms of the condition; among those are jaundice, stunted growth, vitamin deficiencies, muscle twitches and cramps, shortness of breath, and high blood pressure. Treatment of the condition involves managing the symptoms through a variety of avenues including diuretics and vitamin intake. To read more about chronic kidney disease, click here.

The Malnutrition Issue

Registered dietitians from the Sebastian River Medical Center believe that malnutrition is extremely common on Treasure Island, a retirement community. More specifically, though, the professionals state that malnutrition is prevalent in hospital patients in general but most common in seniors.

“I would say 70 percent of our patient population are patients that aren’t eating because they’re sick or have decreased energy and are losing weight, but not knowing why,” said Robinson, one of the dietitians as well as the hospital’s clinical nutrition manager.

Though the issue seems most prevalent in senior communities, malnutrition has turned out to be somewhat of an epidemic among all hospital patients.

According to a report by Becker’s Hospital Review, around “50 percent of all patients are malnourished upon admission to a hospital.” That’s every other patient.

Another article in the Review reads, “the impact of malnutrition will no doubt become more prevalent as the population ages and has more chronic diseases. About half of all U.S. adults – 117 million people – have one or more chronic health condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control. As this group ages, they are at even higher risk for poor nutrition.”

Also detailed in Becker’s Hospital Review are the implications of malnutrition in patients. For example, those who are malnourished also could be more inclined to need longer hospital stays as well as frequent readmissions.

The Hospital Takes Action

Dietitians at Sebastian River Medical Center agree with these statistics and drawbacks of malnutrition among hospital patients. Specifically, they pinpoint those with kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, and wounds. The patients with these conditions, they believe, are prime candidates for the hospital’s nutrition program called MNT.

MNT, a therapy program, is an evidence-backed medical approach for treating those with with chronic conditions through individual-based nutrition plans. These plans have been signed off on by a doctor, and are implemented by the hospital’s dietitians.

Because this program has the potential to be incredibly helpful for this population of patients, the National Institutes of Health adds that MNT is “critical for patients with chronic kidney disease. . . it is vital to engage and refer patients to a registered dietitian.”

Not only this, but NIH also believes that the therapy nutrition program can “delay chronic kidney disease’s progression, prevent or treat complications and improve the patient’s quality of life.”

Not Just Kidney Disease

Dietitians aren’t only concerned about malnutrition among their kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, and wound patients. Sebastian River Medical Center dietitian Laurie Beebe explains that this is a problem found in other patients as well.

“Another really common diagnosis here is congestive heart failure. And if people don’t watch their sodium intake, they can come in month after month after month because when they eat a lot of salt, that holds fluid in and it just starts swelling up … making it difficult to breathe.”

And of course, then there are those who struggle with cancer.

Beebe explains that, “cancer is a big one. Lots of people come in and one of the symptoms of cancer is a huge, quick weight loss. So we’re trying to get them strengthened up so that they can go through radiation, chemotherapy or whatever their treatments are and just to get a little stronger again.”

The End Goal

The primary goal of this program, from the dietitian’s standpoint, is to educate their patients. They want to educate their patients so that they are empowered to properly read labels and grocery shop accordingly as well as understand their individual conditions and the needs for them.

Dietitians still want patients to enjoy themselves and choose foods they like.

“We recommend people eat foods they like. We’ve never told somebody there’s something you have to eat. But we do encourage people to find things from a list we provide of what they can have and eat things that they enjoy,” said Robinson.

Dietitians at Sebastian River Medical Center simply want patients to make healthier choices for their body while not sacrificing the yummy foods they love. To read more about this, click here.

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