Millions of Americans aged 65-and-over have diets deficient in many of the essential daily nutrients they need to keep their minds and bodies strong. For seniors still living at home, being malnourished can eventually threaten their ability to continue aging in place. If you’re serving as a caregiver for an elderly loved one who’s not eating like they should, it can be challenging to find snacks for them that are both healthy and appetizing. To assist your efforts, here are 5 tasty and nutritious and healthy snacks your senior might enjoy.
Why are Many Seniors Malnourished?
These factors can all interfere with a senior’s diet:
Lack of Mobility
Which makes it hard for them to get to the grocery store or fix meals.
Some seniors simply lose interest in eating because they’ve been placed on dietary restrictions for medical reasons that limit their salt, fat, sugar or protein intake.
Some older people simply lack the funds to buy groceries.
Too much alcohol can disrupt a senior’s appetite, digestion and nutrient absorption, causing or exacerbating malnutrition.
According to the Mayo Clinic, malnutrition is more problematic in the elderly because it can cause these additional health problems:
- Slower wound healing
- A weaker immune system, which increases their risk for an infection
- Muscle weakness and decreased bone mass, setting them up for falls and fractures
- Greater likelihood for hospitalization or even death
Eliminating Unhealthy Snacks
If you suspect that your loved one is malnourished, sit down with them and explain your concerns, and how their poor diet could jeopardize their at-home independence. Once they’ve agreed to try some snacks, you’ll first need to eliminate unhealthy ones, including these:
- Pastries and sugary desserts. These tasty treats will raise blood sugar levels, and cause or worsen diabetes.
- Prepackaged snacks. Although these are handy, many also contain large amounts of sugar, salt, and harmful artificial additives.
- Salty or fatty snacks. Snacks high in salt or saturated fats are not good for most seniors, as they can lead to, or exacerbate, heart problems.
5 Healthy Snacks for Seniors
Now that you’ve crossed off the unhealthy items from your shopping list, here are 5 delicious and nutritious snacks that you can quickly serve your senior:
Freshly-cut veggies are colorful and stimulating to the senses, which makes them appealing to seniors. Try cutting up some cucumbers, carrots or broccoli, or buy some baby carrots or grape tomatoes.
In addition to its visual appeal and fresh taste, fruit also helps seniors overcome constipation and dehydration because of its fiber and juice content. Fruits also contain antioxidants and are great for naturally satisfying your loved one’s sweet tooth!
This is a convenient snack that’s filled with much-needed calcium and other nutrients that seniors with a swallowing impairment or poor dentition can easily eat. When those aren’t a concern, top off the yogurt with seeds, nuts or granola for some added crunchiness. For seniors with diabetes, consider a low-carb Greek yogurt to help keep their blood sugar level under control.
When caring for someone who experiences chewing or swallowing discomfort, smoothies made in a blender can be a colorful, tasty way to get them the nutrients and liquids their bodies need. The sky’s the limit for your smoothie ingredients, as you can easily blend up fresh or frozen fruit, yogurt, spinach, kale, flaxseed meal, Spring water, and more.
Cheese is a filling and easy-to-prepare snack that delivers protein to the body used to create new red blood cells that transport oxygen and immune system-supporting antibodies. Protein also helps with tissue repair that helps speed up recovery from surgery or injury.
In-Home Nutritional Support for Manatee County, FL, Seniors
Keeping an elderly at-home loved one from getting malnourished can be challenging, especially when you live far away. If you could use some in-home nutritional support, call First In Care. While serving as an extended family in your loved one’s home, our highly trained caregivers will help ensure that your senior is eating the nutritious foods they need to keep them aging right where they want to be. As a fully licensed agency, we use a unique caregiving approach focused on improving a senior’s quality of life. We also emphasizing their independence, dignity and self-esteem.
Our senior companion care and home health services include medication reminders, light housework, transportation, meals, personal hygiene and more; all delivered in a flexible package when and where you need them. For more information about malnutrition in the elderly, or to schedule a FREE in-home care consultation for your senior in Manatee County, FL, please visit First In Care now at: www.firstincare.com!