Our nutrition needs undoubtedly change as we age; we need more of certain vitamins and minerals, and we often need to cut certain foods out of our diets due to changing physiological needs.
The ability to eat healthily and stay well as we age often comes down to being able to shop and prepare the meals that we need.
For many seniors, grocery shopping and cooking is a daunting task that requires extra help. Check out these four these to consider when planning your aging loved one’s meals and nutritional goals.
Seniors Have Unique Needs
Seniors face a unique set of risks if they don’t receive the proper nutrition:
- Increased risk of osteoporosis and joint issues
- Increased risks with heart health
- Decrease in both lean body mass and basal metabolic rates
- Increased risk of malnutrition
As we age, nutrient requirements change significantly. We might need less of a certain nutrient, but far more of another one.
The World Health Organization reports that a number of common diseases and ailments suffered by the aging population are diet-related.
Diabetes, cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and other degenerative diseases can either be exacerbated or managed through a person’s diet. Diabetes, for instance, can be managed through careful monitoring of blood sugar and a well-planned diet.
Women, in particular, are vulnerable to dangerous bone fractures due to osteoporosis if a good diet is not in place as they age.
Making sure that your aging loved one has access to healthful, nutrient-dense meals and the medications and supplements they need is vital as they age.
Seniors Are Especially at Risk for Malnutrition
Many different elements contribute to seniors’ increased risk for malnutrition.
Elevated serum cholesterol, which tends to occur both in older men and women, can contribute to coronary heart disease.
Issues with mobility, eyesight, stamina and energy levels, common in older people, can prevent them from getting to the grocery store or preparing the nutrient-rich meals that can help them maintain their health.
Many seniors begin relying on pre-packaged and boxed meals that are high in sodium, preservatives and other ingredients that have been shown to have a negative impact on their health. They might also begin skipping meals and eating spoiled food as it becomes harder for them to drive themselves to the grocery store or maintain the stamina that it takes to cook meals.
What Are the Risk Factors for Malnutrition in Seniors?
If you’re concerned about malnutrition in an aging loved one, there are a few risk factors to look out for.
- Decreased sense of smell and taste can impact appetite in some aging adults.
- Changing financial circumstances can make it more difficult for seniors to purchase the healthy foods they need.
- Dental issues can make eating difficult and painful.
- Changing social circumstances, like increased isolation and lack of transportation, can increase seniors’ risk for depression. This can in turn affect the appetite and energy levels.
- Living alone increases the risk for fall and permanent injury, which can result in decreased mobility and decreased proficiency in completing ADLs.
How Can You Help?
While aging does bring increased nutritional requirements and challenges, there are ways to help your aging loved one retain their independence and still get the healthy meals they need.
Bluebird Homecare has nearly 30 years of homecare experience, offering assistance and support to seniors who need a little extra help as they lead independent lives.
Our special Meal Preparation services make it effortless for your aging loved one to enjoy healthy, well-prepared meals on a regular basis. Whether you need three meals a day prepared, or just a healthy breakfast or lunch, we have a homecare provider who can make it happen.
If you have an aging loved one who needs extra support when it comes to nutrition and meal preparation, contact Bluebird Homecare to see how we can help.