Weight management goals in care planning

When care planning, the goals or objectives developed for each aspect of care need to be measurable.  This ensures you’re able to evaluate progress and determine whether the goal has been met or not.  The concern is making sure an appropriate goal is set.  While we look at this from a clinical perspective, we must always remember the resident as the central focus and director where they are able to provide input into what the care plan relays.  People have choice within their capacity and sometimes as nurses, we may not agree with a choice made by our patients / residents in aged care.

When guiding weight management goals from a clinical perspective, Liz Beaglehole, Registered Dietitian has offered the below guide.

Ideal weight range in the care process

Body mass index is still helpful in determining healthy weights for older adults.  A healthy BMI range for adults over 65 actually shifts upwards as compared to adults. So a healthy BMI for older adults has been found to be BMI – 22 – 27kg/m2. A BMI above 32kg/m2 would suggest obesity, a BMI below 20 suggests underweight, and below 18.5 is malnourished.

To work out the BMI: (weight/height²).  Example case:  height = 1.5m and weight = 45kg

  1. We need the height in metres and the weight in Kg.
  2. The height needs to be squared. So a height of 1.5m = 2.25 when squared.
  3. Then the BMI is the weight in Kg divided by the height²

Example:  weight = 45kg divided by 2.25 = BMI of 20kg/m².  This is regarded as the lower end of ideal body weight and suggests the resident is underweight for optimal health.

An ideal body weight for some who is 1.5m tall would be a BMI range of 22 – 27 so a weight range of min 50kg up to around 60kg.  Basically to work out ideal body weight just enter different weights into the BMI calculation until you get to the BMI of at least 22 and then again to a BMI of around 27.

The ideal body weight may differ to the GOAL weight.  The goal weight may be something that is set when the BMI is outside the ideal range but some weight changes are desirable.  The goal weight is more useful and practical as it considers the weight history of the resident and the ability to achieve changes in weight.  For example, a resident may be underweight with a weight of 42kg (BMI= 18.6) but they have been this weight for the past year.  Ideally they would gain weight to 50kg, but this is unrealistic.  The goal weight therefore becomes either weight stabilisation at 42kg or a slight weight gain to 44kg.  This would still mean the resident is underweight but is realistic in what can be achieved.  If the initial goal weight is achieved, a second goal weight may be identified.  This may be to stabilise weight at 44kg or to gain to 45kg.  etc…

This can work for overweight residents too.  Using the same example height of 1.5m.  Someone who weighs 78kg has a BMI of 34.6, and is obese.  However, realistic weight loss to within the ideal body weight range would suggest the resident would need to lose around 18 – 28kg, which is completely unrealistic and would never be suggested for aged care.  A more realistic GOAL weight would be weight stabilisation and then some weight loss.  5% weight loss can improve many health outcomes and this would be a realistic target.  Weight loss of 5% is still around 4kg, which is possible but still difficult.

Article contributed by: Liz Beaglehole (NZ Registered Dietitian), Canterbury Dietitians

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