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Think Twice About Giving Seniors Nutrition Drinks or Shakes


Both Ensure and Glucerna contain maltodextrin. Because maltodextrin is a starch sugar, not a simple sugar, it is not considered a sweetener. In fact, "unsweetened" products can contain maltodextrin. But maltodextrin can have a glycemic index twice as high as cane sugar, and high-glycemic foods are known to increase the risk of diabetes II and heart disease.

These so-called "nutrition" drinks are often made of processed sugars, processed oils, and processed vitamins and minerals. You might as well be feeding the elderly ice cream with gummy vitamins.

Eating, seems non stop to me, without doing ANYTHING to burn it off. Any ideas?

My grandmother is 92 and will eat cream soups which I make myself full of things that are good for her vegetables and protein,and milkshakes with peanutbutter,eggs,chocolate and bannanas,and carnation instant breakfast and she drinks these fine but will only eat something that is sweet you can make brownies and put different things in them that have been blended well and they taste sweet and she does not taste the difference and this way she is getting good items in her diet not tons of sugar and crap,it takes a little work but they are worth it.

Glucerna? This so-called nutrition shake contains maltodextrin, a starch sugar that is known to have an extremely high glycemic index. In fact, it probably has the highest glycemic index among all sugars.

Doctor recommends that my husband and I use a nutritional supplement drink but we are both disabled veterans and on a fixed income. Are there any programs or organizations that can help us? We don't qualify for government assistance. Thank you.

My mother who is 84 y/o who cannot taste. She was 170 lbs and now weighs 131 lbs. She recently had Aortic Valve surgery which made her situation worse but she had no taste prior to this but now worse. I know that she cannot rely on Boost/ensure etc and try to get her to eat a small nutritional meal but she said how hard it is to eat when you cannot taste and have no appetite. We have talked to Drs and they do not know and some do not care what to do. I know when we get older that our taste buds decrease but I am very concerned about moms health...watching her deteriorate is hard. Any suggestions? Please help

I take care of my 77 yr old great aunt. She partially raised me along with my great grandma until she passed at 72 yrs old. Anyways, she has lost her sense of smell and taste i have noticed has decreased. She has a really hard time speaking ( I think) because of her diease. She gets super frustrated with things and emotionally and mentally shuts down. Again I think she suffers from depression but I'm not a dr. I wish i could help her more. Her and i never really had a good relationship so I'm kinda trying to make up for being a bad kid growing up. Sometimes we just sit and have no conversation and then sometimes we will talk and i cant understand what she is talking about. Idk why im posting this. I guess i just need to talk. Lol

Both my 86 year old husband and 88 year old mother have been told by more than one doctor each to drink Boost to gain weight and provide nutrition. I was giving it to them in addition to their meals My husband does not like it and did not want to continue with it but my mother drank it at least twice a day. That is until two weeks ago when her doctor called and told me to take Mother to the emergency room right away; her potassium levels were dangerously high.That problem has been resolved with a small change in diet which includes no nutritional suplements like the Boost. When I read the nutrition info on the bottle and saw it contained over 630 of potassium and she had been drinking at least two a day in addition to a high fiber diet, I felt betrayed by doctors who were prescribing this stuff. My husband takes Coumadin and must keep his potassium levels in check, had been having problems in the past few months with low numbers when he went to have his levels checked; requiring constant changes in his dosages. When he stopped the Boost his Coumadin numbers returned to normal. Doctors should be more aware of the conflict these nutritional drinks can have with the many medications and diet restrictions many elderly people have.

My husband is here at home under Hospice care. He sleeps some 22 hrs a day, just as he has for several years. I asked his nurse how I'll know when he's dying, and she said his appetite will slowly diminish and he won't want to get up. Seems that's part of the natural shut-down of the body. It's on its own timetable. That helped me not fret about the meals he rejects. I just toss the food and try to say sweet words to him as long as his body is around.


My 95-year-old mother is still in her home, with the assistance of CNAs. She lost some weight at first, but she was happy to get rid of some of the "rubber tire" around her middle. The nurse supervisor for the CNAs suggested adding Boost or Ensure, but I told her Mom would rather have a piece of chocolate or cookie instead of a chocolate shake. Mom has a late breakfast (11 am) and dinner at 5:30 pm. When I visit, I bake things I know she'll like (her own recipes) and prepare meats (meatloaf, meatballs, casseroles, chicken breast portions), then pack them in individual servings to put in the freezer. She enjoys her familiar foods and all the CNA has to do is defrost and reheat, then add veggies and salad. She'll complain there's too much food on her plate (really, child-size portions), but if I tell her to take her time, she ends up cleaning the plate and asking what's for dessert. I think a senior's appetite depends a lot on the ambiance of the setting (for Mom, at the kitchen table rather than on a tray in the TV room) and appearance. No one would think a tray of luke-warm food (such as in a hospital or NH) is appetizing, so why should it be different for a a senior?