It’s no secret that good nutrition is essential to our health and wellbeing. That is especially true of seniors, who are often prone to poor eating habits. How can you stay educated on the the changing nutritional needs of your loved ones?
Dental discomfort, depression, financial reasons, or simply not being able to go grocery shopping or cook like they once did can all contribute to to poor eating habits. As a result, millions of seniors suffer from poor nutrition, and that can eventually interfere with their ability to age in place at home. The nutritional needs of seniors change as their body undergoes several physiological changes. Therefore, dietary adjustments must be made in order to keep them healthy and active for many years to come. Let’s take a look at what some of those changes mean and how you can keep up with the changing nutritional needs of seniors.
How Aging Affects the Nutritional Needs of Seniors
As the aging process progresses, a senior’s body undergoes the following changes:
- Lower energy levels– These are due to a slowing of the body’s metabolism and reduced physical activity, which combine to decrease a senior’s daily need for calories and food. Seniors simply don’t have the same appetite that they used to.
- Body function– As we age, certain organs and glands don’t work as well as they once did, and that affects our body’s ability to efficiently store and use essential nutrients. Body composition and weight distribution also reconfigure as those physiological changes kick in.
- Gastrointestinal changes– Elderly people have more difficulty digesting certain foods, such as healthy ones including fruits, vegetables and nuts, as they oftentimes cause uncomfortable GI disturbances like gas and constipation. As a result, many seniors simply skip eating those nutrient-rich foods.
- Poor Dentition– This term refers to the makeup of your entire set of teeth, including their arrangement and condition. Tooth loss, gum discomfort and ill-fitting dentures cause seniors to avoid foods that are hard or sticky; some of which provide important nutrients they need.
Unfortunately, all of these factors can cause malnourishment due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The most common insufficiencies involve Vitamins A, B, C, D and E, along with folic acid and niacin. Symptoms for a nutritional deficiency include loss of appetite, general malaise, or a lack of interest in normal activities and personal wellness.
Dietary Tips for Seniors
Obviously when you’re providing care for a love one at-home you don’t want them to
suffer from poor nutrition. In addition, many at-home seniors resort to eating non-nutritious fast food or junk food, and especially if they live alone. So what can you do to help them eat better and take in the daily nutrients their changing bodies need? Here are some ideas to try:
- Do some dietary research– There are numerous online senior-focused dietary resources that will provide you with tips on the healthiest foods for your loved one to eat. Those sites provide nutritional guidelines on daily food group requirements, recipes for delicious meals, how to read food product labels and other grocery shopping pointers.
- Take your senior grocery shopping– A weekly trip to the grocery store with your senior loved one will ensure that they’re at least stocking nutritious food in their kitchen. It also will give you bonding time with them, and if they are facing financial challenges you can help pay for their food so they can use their money for other bills.
- Meal preparation– This may entail you preparing a meal for them one or more times per week, or coordinating a family “meals-on-wheels” program whereby you all provide meals throughout the week on a rotating basis. Or, spend time socializing with your senior loved one by preparing a meal together.
- Nutritional Supplements– Encourage your loved one to take a daily multi-vitamin that supplies the nutrients they may not be getting through their diet. In addition, there are a number of delicious and nutritious shakes available for seniors that are chocked full of essential vitamins and minerals. Those work well when they are suffering from poor dentition or are having difficulty swallowing solid food.
Implementing as many of these dietary changes as possible will help ensure that your loved one is getting the essential nutrients they need on the road to a happier, healthier and longer life.
We Understand the Nutritional Needs of Seniors
Ensuring that your loved one is eating right can be challenging and time-consuming. When you need a break, professional caregivers from First in Care can step in and provide your aging loved one with the nutritional support they deserve. Our highly-trained caregivers understand the changing nutritional needs of seniors and can assist with the grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation, and will even handle the cleanup afterwards!
In addition to those services, First in Care also provides dependable in-home caregiving for other daily living activities like personal hygiene, light housework, transportation and companionship. Our senior caregiving services are affordable, flexible, and always delivered in a seamless package that restores your peace-of-mind. For more information on our family-trusted senior home care services available in Bradenton and Manatee County, Florida, visit: www.firstincare.com today.