START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Dangers of Nutritional Drinks for Elders

  • 1 of 3
Dangers of Nutritional Drinks for Elders

“My elderly mother isn’t eating and she has lost a lot of weight. Should I give her a nutrition supplement drink to replace the meals she should be eating?”

Under-nutrition due to lack of eating is a common problem among elderly people. It is also dangerous. Under-nutrition and extreme thinness can lead to higher mortality rates, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It is a problem that can’t be ignored.

Ten Reasons Why Your Aging Parent May Not Be Eating Properly

Geriatricians (specialists in treating the elderly) take weight loss among the elderly very seriously and caregivers should, too. However, some caregivers feel that feeding their parent a nutrition supplement drink, such as Boost, in lieu of meals ensures the elderly loved one is getting the nutrition they need. This isn’t the case, according to Dr. Amy Ehrlich, Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine and Interim Division Head of Montefiore Medical Center’s Geriatrics Division.

“Just giving them a can of Ensure for dinner isn’t enough,” she says. “It is always better to try to use regular food to maintain a person’s weight.” If a caregiver wants to use nutrition drinks, they should be used between meals, as a snack or supplement to add calories to the senior’s diet not as a meal replacement.

Ten Reasons Why Your Aging Parent May Not Be Eating Properly
A Heart Healthy Diet
Top 3 Food Preparation Mistakes That Cause Food-borne Illness

Think Twice About Giving Elders Nutritional Drinks or Shakes originally appeared on

  • 1 of 3

Read more: Aging, Caregiving, Diet & Nutrition, Family, Food, General Health, Health, Healthy Aging, Natural Remedies, , , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love connects family caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing options for people caring for their elderly parents. is a trusted resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.


+ add your own
11:09PM PDT on May 30, 2013

If my mother didn't have her nutritional shakes every day, she would probably wither away. She does eat three real meals of solid food a day, but her appetite is so poor...that the meals are frequently rather puny. There are some good shakes out there.

1:39AM PST on Feb 13, 2012

Well, duh. Of course it shouldn't be used as a meal replacement, but, what do you do for a 90+ year old person, who just doesn't have the appetite to eat much? The nutrition drinks are better than just drinking a glass of chocolate milk instead, or sleeping extra to make up for the lack of nutritional intake.

And no, as a home care aid, I don't worry my elderly patients with healthy stuff. If they want a fried egg a day with toast and real butter, go for it, because it helps them maintain their weight. I also encourage bananas and other fruits to ensure the calorie intake. It's just they don't eat enough to be able to maintain, so, they drink that nutrition stuff to help get the nutrients they need. Many still lose weight, but, it keeps them going.

When the time comes that they are ready, they won't want to eat or drink. Then switch to water, if they want it. Forcing it on someone who is actively dying is actually elderly abuse. The 96 year old lady I take care of occasionally has chocolate for breakfast. Good for her.

3:31AM PST on Feb 10, 2012

thanks, good to know

10:26PM PST on Feb 9, 2012

I found it interesting that one reader had read the ingredients. There is a huge array of healthy Smoothie drinks that would always be a better option to make and far more nutritional - but I would leave off the ice. Fresh nutritional ingredients are always better and this goes for soups as well.

12:40PM PST on Feb 9, 2012

This article is very informative. I myself was going to start on Ensure or Boost, whichever I liked best, as the Doctor had some on his front counter, so my mistake in thinking they would be ok to take. I take supplements, heart medication and anti-depressants, so I will be checking with all three doctors.
On the subject of the elderly, my Dr. calls ones who don't eat properly 'The Tea and Toast Syndrome'.

12:31PM PST on Feb 9, 2012

thank you.

12:28PM PST on Feb 9, 2012


9:36AM PST on Feb 9, 2012

"Nutritional drinks" are not Ensure or Boost, they are mostly sugar and should NEVER be used. A homemade milkshake would be far healthier.

And gee, old people who are not eating...maybe they are getting ready to die. That is okay, you know. We all eventually die and trying to prevent it for a month or two just usually means more suffering. Let people die without pain and with love and support when it is time.

8:50AM PST on Feb 9, 2012

Grazie per le informazioni

7:09AM PST on Feb 9, 2012

when my best friend was battling cancer with chemo and no longer had an appetite, these nutitional drinks were heavensent.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Yum! Thank you.

Thanks for the information! Shared on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for caring and sharing - hilarious cat - the other couldn't care less!

I grew up in a warm climate, so have never set eyes on storm windows. The homes are securely bui…


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!