This case study is adapted from a real situation. All names are aliases, and any identifiers are removed for privacy.
Since she lost her husband suddenly three years ago, your home-care client Mrs. Robinson, age 73, hasn’t felt up to cooking just for herself. When you ask her about it, she says “My late husband was always the gourmet cook.” Instead, she tends to munch on crackers and drink tea throughout the day, while watching television. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mrs. Robinson has self-isolated out of fear that she will get sick, and she barely leaves her apartment. The idea of being around lots of people makes her very anxious, and she only sees her adult son and his family a few times a year. Now, Mrs. Robinson is experiencing effects caused by her poor nutrition.
Answer the following question:
- How can you work to improve Mrs. Robinson’s nutrition?
- How can you help Mrs. Robinson enjoy her meals?
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Case Study Feedback
The following feedback for the chapter case study is meant to provide guidance for your own practice. The answers provided are suggestions, and you may have additional ideas which are not covered below. Then, the resolution of the case as it occurred in real life is provided for your reference.
There are several different kinds of issues here. First, Mrs. Robinson is struggling with isolation, anxiety and possible depression. All of these things can result in a loss of appetite. Mrs. Robinson also seems to associate the loss of her husband with proper meals, which may be why she avoids them. Mrs. Robinson will need to begin eating more food, and foods with higher nutritional value, in order to improve her health.
Since Mrs. Robinson is not ready to go out of her apartment, it may be helpful to sign her up for a service like Meals on Wheels so that she does not need to cook. It may also be a good idea to ask her what she likes to eat, bring ingredients when you visit, and cook and eat a meal together. Then, remind her to heat the leftovers in the fridge for subsequent meals.
Look at Mrs. Robinson’s dining area. Why is she not using it? Is the table piled with clutter? How’s the lighting? Consider asking her to work with you to prepare the dining room so that you can eat together there when you visit.
Once Mrs. Robinson is completely vaccinated, encourage her to begin going out to a few social events a week—ideally one that revolves around food.
The care provider was able to get Mrs. Robinson onto a meal delivery list at a local church, so her evening meals were provided daily. She also brought ingredients with her each week and she and Mrs. Robinson would prepare her lunches for the entire week, based on Canada’s Food Guide, Mrs. Robinson’s preferences and recipes that they found together. With two nutritious meals a day each day, Mrs. Robinson saw some improvement of her health over time.