Nutrition Tips After a Post-Acute Care Stay


At Prestige Care, we know that transitioning from a skilled nursing, or post-acute care center to home is a significant moment in a person’s life. As you transition back to your independent lifestyle, it is critical to continue maintaining a well-balanced and nutritious diet in order to reduce your risk of future complications or rehospitalization. This is especially important to consider if you are living with diabetes, just experienced a stroke, have a chronic health condition, or are at risk for malnourishment.

Nutrition plays a critical role not only during a person’s post-acute care journey, but also after they return home. Upon discharge from a Prestige Skilled Nursing Center, our dietitians work with each patient to develop a post-discharge nutrition plan to ensure they are receiving the essential nutrients they need to continue optimizing their recovery.   

While each person has a unique set of medical needs and specialized diet requirements, it is important to consider taking the following steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle after a post-acute care stay.

Stay Hydrated

As we age, our sense of thirst begins to decline which, in turn, can cause older adults to not drink enough liquids to stay hydrated. This is especially important to ensure you are continuing to improve your health after returning home from a short-term care stay.

Drinking water and liquids throughout the day can help prevent dehydration and reduce a person’s salt and sugar cravings. In addition to drinking water to stay hydrated, you can try mixing it up with tea, low-sodium broth, and even water-rich fruits and vegetables such as watermelon, cucumbers, or celery. And try avoiding liquids with large amounts of caffeine and sugar.

It is critical to avoid dehydration after a post-acute care stay in order to reduce your risk of potential health complications such as cognitive impairment, kidney issues, and fall risk. Consider keeping track of your fluid intake and be cautious of signs of dehydration. If you are experiencing headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, or any other symptoms of dehydration, it is important to seek medical help as quickly as possible.

Limit Sugar Intake

Although it can be a challenge if you have a sweet tooth, it is important to be cautious of your sugar cravings and limit your intake so you can reduce your risk of future health complications. Consuming too much sugar can become a health risk if you are still recovering from a serious hospitalization and live with diabetes or have a chronic health condition.

Try to avoid items that are high in added sugars and swap out some sweets with fresh, naturally sweetened fruit instead. You can also incorporate more whole grains into your diet which can help regulate your blood sugar levels and provide you with the energy you need to continue living an active lifestyle.

Limiting your intake of added sugars can help you manage your blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and accelerate your body’s healing process. It can also reduce your risk of developing further health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.    

At Prestige, our dietitians work with each person upon their discharge to develop a customized diet plan that includes healthy low-sugar options and resources on how to manage your blood sugar levels after a post-acute care stay.

Increase Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables

If you are at risk for heart disease, have a compromised immune system, or experienced malnourishment following a hospitalization, you may be required to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables to ensure you are receiving the nutrients you need for a successful recovery.

Fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, blueberries, cabbage, and apples are high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that are essential to preventing chronic health conditions. Leafy greens and colorful fruits can also help sustain a person’s overall health, reduce blood pressure, boost their immune system, and increase energy levels as their body is continuing to heal after a serious medical event.

Choosing the correct fruits and vegetables for your health doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Our dietary teams work with each individual prior to them returning home to ensure they are consuming the appropriate levels of fruits and vegetables based on their individual medical needs.

Maintain a Protein-Rich Diet

If you are recovering from a serious injury or surgery, you may be more susceptible to significant muscle loss, reduce strength and stability, and a lack of nutrients that are necessary for an optimal recovery. If you are receiving care at a post-acute care center, your dietitian may suggest increasing your protein consumption and work with you to develop a post-discharge nutritional plan to ensure you are receiving the appropriate amount of protein for your unique medical needs.

Healthy proteins such as nuts, fish, beans, chicken, and turkey provide amino acids that are essential in continuing to build muscle and improve strength after your rehabilitation. A diet rich in lean proteins can help maintain muscle mass and reduce your risk of future health concerns such as malnutrition, experiencing a fall, or other type of serious injury. High protein consumption is a key factor in improving strength and repairing muscle tissue which can contribute to a speedier recovery.

While your functional strength and mobility have improved following a post-acute care stay, it is important to continue maintaining your health to prevent future muscle loss. At Prestige, we provide each person with the resources they need upon discharge to continue following a high protein meal plan at home in order to reduce their risk of reinjury.

Manage Your Salt Intake

It is important to consider your salt intake after a post-acute care stay, especially if you have experienced a stroke or cardiac event as higher salt consumption can elevate blood pressure levels, attribute to inflammation, and may cause dehydration. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults consume less than 2,300 milligrams of salt each day to help manage their overall health, but depending on your medical needs you may be required to limit your salt intake to no more than 1,500 milligrams per day.

Upon your return home, it is critical to manage your salt intake to continue reducing your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and other serious health conditions. This can include limiting processed foods high in sodium, staying hydrated, seasoning your food with alternative spices, and eating whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. Regardless of where you are in your recovery journey, it is important to take these small steps that can ultimately lead to a healthier and more active lifestyle.     

When a person is discharged from a Prestige Care Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, they may be required to continue following a modified diet to maintain their health and prevent hospitalization, especially if they have a chronic condition, or are at risk for malnutrition. Individuals who are receiving proper nutrition may be less susceptible to falls, muscle weakness, and lethargy all which can lead to reinjury.

Our dietary team takes into consideration the variety of nutritional needs for every individual and works closely with each patient, their medical team, and their family to develop a post-discharge nutrition plan to ensure they are continuing to receive the nutrients they require. Your registered dietitian can also answer any questions you or your family may have regarding your post-discharge diet plan.

Upon returning home, you may also be required to make long-term dietary changes or take additional dietary supplements. At Prestige, we know the importance of consuming a well-balanced diet to ensure a continued recovery. Our goal is to successfully transition patients from hospital to home with the tools and resources necessary to manage and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Contact the location nearest you to learn how we accommodate each person’s dietary needs during their recovery and upon discharge.