As our elderly age, nutrition is something that becomes difficult to focus on. In today's video, we are going to address some of the reasons why and also talk about some things that we can do to help with that challenge.
Welcome to The Senior Circle, where we hope to inspire and help others by providing valuable, relevant information related to caring for an elderly loved one. Hi, my name is Dawn Neely and I'll be your host. Thank you for joining us.
Why is nutrition important for older adults?
Nutrition is about eating a healthy and balanced diet so your body gets the nutrients that it needs. Nutrients are substances in foods that our bodies need so they can function. They include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water.
Good nutrition is important, no matter what your age. It gives you energy, it can help you control your weight and it may also help prevent some diseases, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers.
As you age, however, your body and life change, and so does what you need to stay healthy. For example, you may need fewer calories, but you still need to get enough nutrients. Some older adults might need more protein while others need to focus on their carbohydrates.
Some changes that can happen as you age can make it harder for you to eat healthy.
- These include changes in your home life, such as suddenly living alone or having trouble getting around.
- Health, which can make it harder for you to cook or feed yourself.
- Medicines, medicines can change how your food tastes, make your mouth dry, or take away your appetite.
- Income, which means you may not have as much money for food as you once did.
- Your sense of smell and taste can change.
- You can develop problems chewing or swallowing your food.
So how can you eat healthy as you age?
To stay healthy as you age, you should:
- Eat foods that give you lots of nutrients without a lot of extra calories, such as fruits and vegetables, you will wanna choose different types with bright colors, whole grains are great, like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown rice. Try to keep seafood, lean meats, poultry, and eggs in your diet for great protein, in addition add beans, nuts, and seeds as you can tolerate.
- Avoid those empty calories. These are foods with lots of calories and few nutrients, such as chips, candy, baked goods, soda, and alcohol. As great as these things taste, they really do our bodies no good. It's good to enjoy our food, but these things need a great deal of moderation.
- Pick foods that are low in cholesterol and fat. You especially want to try to avoid the saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats are usually fats that come from animals. Trans fats are processed fats in stick margarine and vegetable shortening. You may find them in some store-bought baked goods and fried foods at your fast-food restaurants.
- Some people lose their sense of thirst as they age, but we really must drink enough liquids! This is so very important so you don't get dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to many complications. There are also certain medicines that might make it even more difficult to go without fluids. And you need to make sure you keep those up.
- Another helpful thing to do is stay active. If you have started losing your appetite, exercising may help you to feel hunger. You don't have to run a marathon, but keep moving.
So what can you do if you're having trouble eating healthy?
Sometimes health issues or other problems are making it hard to eat healthy. But here are some tips that just might help:
- If you are tired of eating alone, try organizing some potluck meals or cooking with a friend. You can also look into having some meals at a nearby senior center, community center, or many churches organize community meals.
- If you are having trouble chewing, see your dentist to check for problems as they may be able to help alleviate the issue.
- If you are having trouble swallowing, try drinking plenty of liquids with your meal. If that doesn't help, check with your health provider. A health condition or medicine could be causing the problem and you'll want to catch that as early as you possibly can.
- If you're having trouble smelling and tasting your food, try adding color and texture to make your food more interesting.
- If you aren't eating enough, try adding some healthy snacks throughout the day that can help you get more nutrients and calories.
- If an illness is making it harder for you to cook or feed yourself, check with your health care provider. He or she may recommend an occupational therapist, who can help you find ways to make it easier.
At Seniors Helping Seniors, we've had the opportunity and blessing to help many folks with their daily needs, including meal preparation and planning. If you have any questions or a situation you could use some help with, feel free to give us a call at Seniors Helping Seniors at 248.969.4000.
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