5 Healthy Nutrition Tips for Seniors

4/1/2015

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Proper nutrition is important at any age, but for seniors it makes an especially big difference. Nutrient-rich foods help strengthen brittle bones, give energy and improve immunity. However, ensuring that your loved one receives proper nutrition is not an easy task. There are many challenges involved, including but not limited to:

  • Changing food preferences
  • Difficulty eating due to poor oral health
  • Decreased appetite
  • Forgetfulness
  • Medications may change how certain foods taste
  • Cooking meals can be a dangerous activity

From our Maryland caregivers to you, here are some essential tips for overcoming these challenges and helping your loved one receive their daily dose of vitamins and nutrients.

Avoid Processed Foods

Processed foods, such as chips, candy and the majority of pre-made and pre-packaged foods are not very nutritious. Moreover, they may contain artificial dyes, flavorings, preservatives and other chemicals that may put more stress on your loved one’s already weakened liver. It may sound like an easy solution to stock grandma’s freezer with microwavable meals, but it’s definitely not the best one. When shopping for food, focus on fresh, organic fruits, vegetables and nuts that are in season in your area. If there is a local farmer’s market nearby, shop there instead of the chain grocery stores.

Prepare Meals in Advance

If your elderly loved one is used to cooking their own meals with fresh ingredients, switching to bland microwavable food is almost an insult to their taste buds. If cooking on their own is not an option anymore due to arthritis or safety issues, make sure there is someone there to help. Healthy meals can be prepared in batches and stored in plastic containers, so that your loved one never runs out of food choices.

If you are looking for a caregiver to help take care of your loved one, choose the company that also offers nutrition-related services, such as meal planning and preparation, grocery shopping, etc. At 2nd Family, we have found that many caregivers overlook this important aspect of care, which is why we made sure our personal care services include keeping your loved one in good health.

Establish a Schedule and Stick to it

Poor nourishment is an issue for many seniors, especially those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. If your loved one has poor memory, he or she can easily forget the last time they ate. This opens doors for both under-eating and overeating. To make sure your loved one consumes the proper amount of meals throughout the day, it’s best to establish a schedule and a meal-time routine, and then have someone oversee it. If you don’t have time, a Maryland caregiver specializing in Alzheimer’s care can be extremely handy for this task.

Follow the Prescribed Diet

If your loved one suffers from diabetes, high/low blood pressure or other health conditions that require a strict diet, make sure this diet is being followed. Also make sure that everyone who takes care of or visits your loved one knows not to bring cupcakes for tea if sugar is off the menu. To make healthy foods a bit more enticing, serve them in bite-sized bits. Baking and boiling softens harder foods, so if food texture is an issue, find ways to modify it while preserving the inherent nutrients.

Don’t Rush Into Changes

The older people get, the more difficult it becomes to adapt to change. If adjustments in your loved one’s diet are needed, ease into it slowly. Throwing out the unhealthy contents of their fridge and forcing new meals on them may be traumatic. Take small steps, such as slowly substituting high-fat meat and dairy with low-fat versions or moving from coffee to herbal teas. If your loved one is used to certain ethnic foods, or if their religion restricts their diet, respect these choices and try to work around them to avoid conflicts.

It’s often hard to keep track of your own nutrition, not to mention getting someone else to eat right. If you can’t provide the above level of nutritional care to your loved one, consider hiring a caregiver. At 2nd Family, we’ll be happy to lend you a hand in keeping your loved one healthy.

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