The Importance of Nutrition for Seniors
Eating right is essential for mental and physical health for the senior in your life. If they don’t eat correctly, then malnutrition can become an issue. Proper nutrition in seniors can prevent depression, fatigue, anemia, weakness, weak immune system, digestive, heart, and lung problems.
However, as your loved one age, the needs of their body change as well. Your family member might need fewer actual calories, but still need enough nutrients and maybe even an increase in protein.
Proper nutrition begins with eating a healthy and balanced diet. Getting the full spectrum of nutrients like carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, vitamins, and water can help the body to function and avoid deficiencies. When your loved one eats correctly, it can help control weight, and provide the energy to get through the day.
What Changes Can Make It Harder to Stay Healthy?
With every year over 40, the metabolism slows down, and there’s the generally less physical activity. A senior’s digestive system is also slowing down, and they generate less stomach acid and saliva. When this happens, it makes processing specific vitamins and minerals more difficult and chewing and swallowing can become an issue. Essential vitamins like B12, folic acid, and B6 are crucial for proper circulation and mental alertness. Consult with their doctor about recommending supplements.
As we age salty and bitter tastes are the first to be lost, so your loved one could use more salt than they did when they were younger. For heart health, have them switch to using more spices, herbs, and healthy oils instead. Taking medications may also affect how food tastes. It can cause your senior to salt or sweeten their meal more than what’s needed. They will consume more salt or sugar than what’s needed. Discuss their medication with their physician to see if they have a suggestion to fix the problem.
If your family member seems lonely or depressed, they may not eat enough food or overeat. If they are able to eat with another person, it can help to alleviate loneliness. Try to arrange to eat with your loved one or have various family members take turns cooking and eating with them. Encourage monthly supper clubs, or coordinate meet ups at nearby restaurants.
Death or divorce can have an adverse effect on your senior’s eating habits. They may not want to cook anything or are not used to cooking for one person. You can bring meals to them or invite your loved one to dinner at your home. You could cook enough for them and freeze it so your family member can simply reheat it and eat.
How to Boost Your Senior’s Appetite
The first thing is to check with your loved one’s physician to see if any medications their taking are causing their lack of appetite. If that is the problem, ask if the drug or the dosage can be changed. You can suggest your family member try butter, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, ginger, and other natural enhancers to help boost their appetite.
If chewing is the issue, there are some different suggestions you can try to make chewing easier for your senior:
- Drink smoothies made with yogurt, fresh fruit, and protein powder
- Eat rice, yogurt or couscous, other soft foods, and steamed veggies
- Make sure their dentures fit correctly by consulting your family member’s dentist
- If their mouth is dry, encourage them to take a drink of water with each bite
Trying to Eat Healthy on a Budget
Many seniors are on a fixed income, and your senior may be one of them. There are ways to eat healthy and still stretch a budget to accommodate it. When shopping, stick to a grocery list and buy in bulk or on senior discount days. Plus, check out the generic and store brands, the food is cheaper, and the quality is comparable.
It’s important for a senior to eat healthy foods and remember the importance of nutrition. Eating right will make your loved one healthier all around.
At Custom Caregivers, our dedicated care staff not only provides the high-quality senior care Dallas area seniors deserve, we also strive to make sure we’re providing a care experience that is respectful of each of our clients. That means we treat each of our clients the way we would want to be treated and choose our words with care and consideration. It’s a guarantee you can count on when entrusting your loved one’s care to Custom Caregivers!
If you’d like to learn more about our staff or our in-home care services, give us a call at (972) 702-7988 or contact us online to schedule a free in-home assessment.
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