As we age, our nutritional needs change. Seniors often are home living alone and can get into habits of not eating as well as they should. Seniors might be “stuck in their ways” if they have been eating the same way for many years. Snacks and foods that don’t need to be cooked may become staples as they lose the interest or ability to cook healthy meals. “Physical and cognitive problems often cause seniors to become unable to prepare adequately nutritious or filling meals. Eating almost every meal in isolation can also exacerbate loneliness, stress and anxiety.” The elderly also have to consider their diet and how it might interact with their medications and health conditions.
Caregivers can provide companionship and fulfill the need of good nutrition as well as they plan, prepare and clean up healthy meals. They can encourage them to try new healthy foods. Eating well keeps seniors’ bodies strong, their minds sharp, and their energy levels up.
Whole foods provide the best nutrition for any age group. Highly processed foods that are so prevalent in the grocery store and many homes today lack nutrients that our bodies need and fill us up with too much fat and chemicals. If we fill up on these “foods” we don’t leave enough room for the healthy foods our bodies actually need.
The top five food categories to keep in mind for seniors are colorful fruits and vegetables, dairy for calcium, whole grains, lean proteins, and fish with omega 3’s. The darker the fruits and vegetables the better- as they provide the most vitamins and antioxidants. Dairy provides calcium and Vitamin D. A Vitamin D supplement is recommended in areas that get little sun in the winter (such as Michigan). Whole grains provide vitamin B and lots of fiber. Look for grains that provide at least 3g of fiber and lots of protein. Protein can be found in beans, legumes, nuts, dairy, fish and meat. If meat is chosen, make sure it is lean. Fat on meats is saturated fat that leads to high cholesterol. Correct portions are essential as well (just a deck of cards of meat). Finally, fish is essential for omega 3’s. Just two servings a week of fatty fish is needed. Salmon is a great source and canned salmon is highly convenient.
Eating a balanced diet is important even if someone does not appear to be overweight. Too many carbs and sugary foods can lead to heart disease and diabetes. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet is important at any age.
Family and caregivers of 1Senior Home Care work together as a team to make sure our elderly clients are receiving the best care and essential nutrition needed.
If you or someone you know needs help with elderly care services in Northern Michigan contact 1Senior Home Care Inc. We provide quality and affordable home care services in our community. Call us at (231) 547-5818 for more information.