Nutrition Tips for Patients with Limited Mobility

The food we eat largely impacts our bodies’ ability to perform various functions, such as healing during recovery. However, some patients may experience difficulty eating and getting the nutrients they need often due to complications with mobility. Some patients may experience limited hand mobility that prevents them from using utensils, while others may struggle with mobility of the mouth and cannot properly chew or swallow. 

Taking the challenges of limited mobility into account, here is a brief guide that offers alternative ways to stay hydrated and healthy during recovery. 

 Properly Hydrating with Limited Mobility

Staying hydrated is important outside of recovery, but even more so during. Hydration is responsible for helping deliver nutrients to cells. Without proper and adequate hydration, the recovery process may be prolonged or interrupted due to hydration-related complications.

 Drinking water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated, though. For some patients with limited mobility, trying to swallow a large quantity of liquid is very difficult, so eating solid foods with high water content can be a good alternative. To improve hydration through food, increase the amount of produce in your diet and focus on greens with high water content. Some examples of hydrating fruit and produce are watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, and lettuce.  

Another way to stay hydrated is to consume water in a different state. Take, for instance, Jello, which is simply powdered gelatin and flavoring added to water. Jello’s hydration-filled gelatinous form makes it easier for people with difficulty swallowing or chewing to consume. Patients with dysphagia are often placed on a thickened liquid diet to help them swallow more easily. 

Getting Adequate Nutrition with Limited Mobility

Eating a well-balanced diet has a significant impact on how quickly and effectively you heal. It is through a wide variety of foods that our bodies receive calories, proteins, vitamins, and various other nutrients. These all play their own part in different body functions and processes. Without them, recovery is compromised. However, some patients who experience limited mobility may have trouble consuming necessary levels of nutrient-dense foods.  

Aside from food, the most obvious way to get more nutrients is to take vitamins or supplements in the form of pills, capsules, or powders. For patients who experience trouble swallowing pills, adding powder supplements to drinks is a good way to get nutrients more directly. If the patient just has difficulty consuming solid food, blending nutrient-dense foods can be a great alternative, but please consult your care team  to make sure that the patient is consuming the correct texture of food and consistency of liquids to prevent aspiration. For those who can have smoothies, adding fruits and greens such as kale is a tasty way to get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. 

Check out the resources below for more information on nutrition, nutrient-rich foods, and various ways to stay hydrated and adequately nourished:

 19 Water-Rich Foods That Help You Stay Hydrated by Healthline
The American College of Gastroenterology’s dysphagia guide
AARP article on Healing and Nutrition
Changing Your Diet: Choosing Nutrient-rich Foods by the American Academy of Family Physicians

From the Acuity Family, we wish you or your loved ones a speedy and successful recovery.