The Best Nutrition Supplement Drinks for Elderly!

Are you finding it difficult to get nutrition supplement drinks in stock?  Nutrition supplement drinks for the elderly aid in preventing weight loss, treating Malnutrition, and much more. Dietitians need to have nutrition supplement drinks for the elderly on hand at all times.

Nutrition supplement drinks for elderly can be a great way to provide the nutrients that they need!

So what do we do when they are out of stock?  

It’s time to create in-house recipes to be able to treat malnutrition and prevent weight loss in the elderly.  

If you’re looking for a Dietitian’s 2023 recommendations for the nutrition supplement drinks for the elderly that are in store right now, read this updated article!

Current Options for Supplement Drinks for Elderly

The majority of long term care Dietitians will recommend formulas that have 2 calories for every mL of fluid.  These tend to sweep that market at MedPass and with good reason.

Both offer great nutrition panels so it’s easy to see their appeal to the healthcare field.  You get high quantities of protein, fats, and carbohydrates and other nutrients needed.  They come in handy with a typical prescription looking like 60 mL three to four times per day.  

The issue comes when we don’t have access to specialised formulas for nutrition supplement drinks.

nutrition supplement drinks for elderly
There is an endless variety

So what do we do when we run out of nutrition supplement drinks for the elderly?  It doesn’t seem like this is a problem that is going to end anytime soon.

We need to start adapting to the changing times of being out of stock of our regular formulas.  

Are Nutrition Drinks for Elderly That Important?

Medpass has become a great option for Dietitians as a tool in our tool belt to prevent Malnutrition. But I think that we need to stop putting nutrition supplement drinks on a pedestal that they are the only option. I’m sure most of us look at a food first approach, so why don’t we look at alternatives to nutrition supplements?

If we take a look at the nutrition panels on let’s say for example the high calorie options. They have great nutrition panels, offering approximately a ratio of Protein (17%-20%), Fat (40%), Carbohydrate (40%). Offer plenty of vitamin and minerals that our patients need, but what if we created our own nutrition drinks?

I believe that when we run out of the formulas we need with nutrition supplement drinks, we can have a recipe on hand to replace. We as Dietitians are experts and we can create an alternative smoothie/nutrition supplement drink for the elderly to provide them with the boost in calories and protein that they need!

Keep reading if you want to find out how!

I promise that it is not as complicated, time consuming, or overwhelming as it may seem. I’ll break it down into a simple formula for you!

Create Your Own Nutrition Supplement Drinks for Elderly

Dietitians are nutrition experts and have the training to develop a nutrition supplement drink for the elderly.  

It’s not rocket science to create a high protein drink for the elderly.  It is nutritional science, but we all have backgrounds in that, thankfully.  

By creating an in house recipe for a nutrition supplement drink for your patients, your patients can have constant access to a high calorie supplement drink.  

Once you have a system in place, it is very straightforward and is not an excess amount of work in the kitchen.  You provide the recipe, the kitchen makes it in large quantities and it can be refrigerated for 2-3 days at a time.  Or you can have them make enough for one day at a time.  

Similar to Medpass they can be divided into small cups with each serving approximately 60 mL, depending on your prescription. They are then sent to the units and given out!

Here are the components for a recipe that you need to include in your nutrition supplement drink for elderly patients.  You can also adjust the recipe based on your patient’s health condition such as diabetic, renal, cardiac, etc.

components of a nutrition supplement drink for the elderly
Components Needed for a Nutrition Supplement Drink

Protein Drinks for Seniors: Protein Food Sources

Protein drinks for seniors can be a great way to1:

1. Aid in wound healing
2. Maintain good skin integrity
3. Treat and prevent Sarcopenia
4. Meet elderly nutrient needs
5. Provide increased satiety

Nutrition supplement drinks are a quick way to meet all of the above.  We want to create a nutrition supplement drink for elderly that meets both protein and caloric requirements.

So where can we get extra protein to put into a recipe that will help with that?

Ground nuts & flax seeds
Skim milk powder
Hemp seeds
Nut Butters

You can also add protein powders to your recipes, though for some that may be cost prohibitive.  I prefer to use skim milk powder as it doesn’t affect the taste and the cost for a large bag is not too bad. Most can have access to this quite easily!

If you have a hard time getting some from your supplier, you can order off amazon or even get from the grocery store!

skim milk powder
Skim Milk Powder for Smoothies

High Calorie Drinks for Seniors: Calorie Food Sources

Providing a high calorie drink for elderly patients can aid in2:

  1. Prevent and treat Malnutrition
  2. Aid in good skin integrity
  3. Aid in wound healing
  4. Prevent and treat unintentional weight loss
  5. Prevent and treat Sarcopenia
  6. Promote weight gain

All of which are focused on nutrition care for the elderly.  We want to provide extra calories to our elderly patients through a nutrition supplement drink because we get the most bang for our buck that way.

Meal times do not always meet the needs of the elderly if they are having a difficult time eating a full meal.  When we provide extra calories through MedPass/Oral Nutritional Supplement drinks we can help prevent Malnutrition.

In a recipe for high calorie drink for the elderly we can add the following to increase calories:

  1. Full fat milk
  2. Yoghurt (Greek)
  3. Ice cream
  4. Nut butters (high in calories for small quantities)
  5. Condensed milk

Flavour Sources

Some like to make smoothies/nutrition drinks very complicated with many ingredients.  Working with the elderly, I have found that simple ingredients work best.  

For cost reasons as well most care homes for the elderly cannot afford to make complicated recipes.  We can keep a smoothie/nutrition supplement drink for the elderly simple but delicious.  

Here’s some ways to have a great tasting smoothie/nutrition supplement drink:

  1. Fruit juices
  2. Frozen fruit (Great cost saver)
  3. Bananas (Inexpensive cost for most care homes)
  4. Honey
  5. Syrups (Chocolate)
  6. Coconut milk (Pricey – But a small amount goes a long way in terms of flavour).  You can even include coconut flakes which are cheaper!

Adjusting for Elderly Disease Conditions

Nutrition supplement drinks for the elderly come in a variety which includes some that are adjusted for disease conditions (Think Nepro, Glucerna, etc).  

You can adjust your recipes for various disease conditions as well!

You may also need to add in extra protein sources to aid in wound healing. I spoke above about it but you can add in additional protein powders for those who need it for increased wound healing.

You can also add in vitamin supplements as needed for either their needs or disease conditions. Let’s say for example that a patient needs increased arginine (the science is still out on this need) for wound healing. Look at your daily needs calculator and add into the smoothie! If you want to know more about wound healing, check out this article.

Another example is a patient with Diabetes may be able to have a regular nutrition drink recipe that you have created.  But if you want to adjust, leave out the fruit juices or add in diet juices.  You can also just make it with milk and nut butter and bananas blended together.  It’s a high protein high calorie supplement drink without the extra sugar. Adjust as needed based on your patients population needs.

I am all for diet liberalisation so if a patient does not need the standard recipe adjusted, give them a regular!  Check out this blog post on the importance of liberalising diets in the elderly!

I will also say, due to the small amount each patient is getting (typically 60 mL), you may be able to have one recipe for your entire population. But you will need to evaluate that for yourself!

How to Serve Elderly Nutrition Drinks

nutrition supplement drinks for elderly checklist
Download and Print This for Your Facility!

If we look at the nutrition panel of MedPass prescriptions they look similar to this:

2.0 kcal – 60 mL prescription, 4 times per day = 480 mL

When you develop your recipe, make a nutrition panel for it!  You can have the nutrition supplement drink delivered in the same method that MedPass would occur.  It can also be implemented as snacks. 

It’s an alternative to constantly searching for which products are available and from which supplier.  It may seem like a daunting task but I can promise you that it is not a difficult thing to do.

You will want to get buy-in from your team that this is an alternative to MedPass with the typical nutrition supplements available on the market.  

I don’t see the supplement shortage being solved anytime soon, so I would start preparing that you may need to do this.  

Do you have any nutrition supplement drink recipes for the elderly in your home?  Drop your comments below on recipes that you have!

Also here’s some links to some fantastic websites with recipes that you can try!

1000 calorie weight gain smoothie
Click the picture to find a High Protein High Calorie recipe!
high protein vegan smoothie
Click the picture to find a Vegan/Vegetarian friendly recipe!
Click the picture to find a Healthy Protein & Fat recipe!
renal smoothie
Click the picture to find a Renal friendly recipe!


Michelle saari dietitian
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Michelle Saari is a Registered Dietitian based in Canada. She has a Master's Degree in Human Nutritional Sciences and is a passionate advocate for spreading easy to understand, reliable, and trustworthy nutrition information. She is currently a full time online entrepreneur with two nutrition focused websites.

1 thought on “The Best Nutrition Supplement Drinks for Elderly!”

  1. There are health care solutions to help ensure that elders receive proper nutrition– from meal delivery services tailored specifically for your seniors’ dietary needs to planning ahead of time and preparing meals yourself.

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