Good nutrition is the foundation for good health. A combination of proper nutrients and exercise can help prevent a variety of chronic diseases. Throughout the aging process, bone and muscle mass is lost as metabolisms change. Due to the unique nutritional needs of seniors, taking the proper measures to provide wholesome, healthy foods is key to avoiding malnutrition and disease.
Though seniors often have lower calorie requirements, they may need more nutrients than younger people. As we age, our ability to absorb nutrients from our food becomes less efficient. Creating a plan with a health professional, such as a dietician, can help seniors age with optimal nourishment.
Understanding the key nutrients for seniors, such as lean protein, fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D can result in healthier plates. Whole grains and dairy products both provide a boost to a senior’s daily nutrition goal. Hearty soups are popular, as they are easily chewed and can provide vegetables, protein, and grains in a single bowl.
Some seniors begin to lose the sensation of thirst, which may lead to dehydration and difficulty digesting meals. Sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit juice with added sweeteners should be enjoyed in moderation. Low-fat milk helps to hydrate and also provides key nutrients, such as protein, potassium, and calcium.
Seniors who find themselves struggling to consume enough calories each day should consider switching to full-fat milk and adding healthy fats and oils to boost calories. Nut butter and avocados are ideal and spread easily on toast or as a standalone snack.
Depending on the senior’s health, supplements may be recommended. One example is many seniors are prone to calcium and Vitamin D deficiency, which affects bone health. Supplements may help with deficiencies and can in the form of a daily meal-replacement shake or chewable vitamins and minerals.
Health experts encourage people of all ages to “eat the rainbow.” By filling a plate with diverse, colorful options, appetites increase and mealtime becomes more stimulating. Encourage variety to avoid the boredom associated with repetition.
There are many practical tips to help ensure that a senior is obtaining proper nutrition. If unintentional weight loss has occurred, it’s important to visit a doctor to ensure there are no underlying medical causes. A doctor can provide a referral to a dietician, who is best equipped to build a personalized plan to promote a nourishing eating regimen.
Seniors who have recently experienced the loss of a spouse or a close friend are prone to loneliness, which can escalate to a depressive state. This makes it difficult for the seniors to cook or feed themselves, even if they’re otherwise independent. Check on your loved ones, either by providing them with healthy meals or accompanying them out to eat to encourage conversation and a hearty plate.
Within senior living communities, meals are provided each day and there is social belonging built around eating together. Priority Life Care takes great care to ensure each resident is meeting their personal nutrition goals, through working with licensed nutritionists and providing wholesome, healthy, and delicious meals to our seniors.