Good senior nutrition is important to healthy aging. Helping your loved ones maintain good nutrition with tasty meals that fit their specific health needs is critical.
Every 5 years, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and of Agriculture (USDA) jointly publish a report containing nutritional and dietary information and guidelines for the general public. You can download the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans for free at Health.gov. You can also create a personalized nutrition plan at ChooseMyPlate.gov.
General tips to help
achieve the goals include:
Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutritional needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups.
Limit calories from sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.
Ensure adequate water and fluid intake. It reduces stress on kidney function and also eases constipation. The ability to detect thirst declines with age, so remind loved ones to drink water before they actually feel thirsty.
Switch to whole grains for breads, pastas, etc.
Eat fruit for a sweet treat instead of processed cakes or cookies.
Daily exercise and calcium intake are both important in protecting against osteoporosis.
Take care of dental issues and ensure dentures fit properly.
When shopping, remember:
Make a shopping list. Plan meals for the week.
Shop when the store is not crowded and after a meal. Ask for help at the store, if needed.
Read the nutrition labels. When the label says “low calorie” or “low sodium,” check the nutrition information label for the number of calories and amount of sodium per serving.
If loneliness and depression are affecting a loved one, having a nice meal with family or visiting a favorite restaurant can really help. If you are separated from your loved ones, senior care companion services are available.
Making dietary changes can be difficult for anybody. Make small changes gradually. Overall, be creative and always set a good example.
If your loved one or senior family member is in need of extra guidance, or if they’re unable to prepare meals on their own, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a certified home care agency that has experience dealing with these matters. Make sure you mention any special needs (for instance, if they’re diabetic, have a heart condition, kidney disease, cancer, respiratory disease or if they’re using a enteral/parenteral feeding, etc.).