Elderly Food and Nutrition: Healthy is Key
A well-balanced diet is important at all ages. Though as we age and our bodies change, our diets should adjust as well. So when it comes to elderly nutrition, it is important to pay attention to these 6 changes in order to optimize nutrition for older adults.
Health is key in all ages. But turning the door to good nutrition can be quite the barrier in seniors, especially with inevitable body changes and cognitive decline. Fortunately, identifying and defeating nutritional risks can ultimately open the door to optimized senior nutrition!
Nutrition for Older Adults
Though a well-balanced diet is stressed at all ages, there are specific changes that are common in the senior population. So when it comes to elderly nutrition, it is important to pay attention to the following age-related food and nutrition dynamics that may compromise health:
Despite the general need for all nutrients across all populations, senior nutrition focuses consistently on preventing age-related body changes and deficiencies in micronutrients. Seniors commonly experience a decrease in metabolism and reduced muscle mass. Paired with poor nutritional intake, malnutrition and muscle weakness becomes at risk. To prevent muscle breakdown as much as possible, it is imperative to promote protein intake. Protein sources include animal meats and products (lean steak, chicken, and milk products) and plant-based sources (beans and lentils). Choose softer protein sources over tougher meats if experiencing chewing and swallowing difficulties.
Additionally, malnutrition and poor elderly nutrition increases the risk of a wide variety of micronutrient deficiencies including, but not limited to, calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. The cultivation of micronutrient deficiencies and poor nutritional intake increases the risk for the identified age-related health conditions identified next.
Age-Related Health Conditions
The most common diseases and conditions in the elderly include heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and anemia, all of which are diet-related. When it comes to heart disease, diabetes and cancer, fostering a nutritious diet can counteract and reduce the risk and complications of each condition. When it comes to osteoporosis, weight bearing exercises can help promote bone health along with adequate intake of calcium from dairy products, almonds, and collard greens. Anemia risk can further be reduced with the intake of iron, vitamin B12 and folate-rich food products by incorporating beef, oats, lentils and spinach.
Dehydration is common in older adults related to a reduced thirst mechanism. Dehydrated individuals may experience brain fogginess and lightheadedness, ultimately creating the opportunity for falls and injuries. Prevent dehydration by encouraging fluid intake - placing water cups in convenient locations, prompting and cuing water intake and offering ice chips, popsicles, and fruits with a high-water content.
Chewing and Swallowing
Chewing and swallowing movements may be altered as age advances. It is important to identify such complications, as each can really impact food intake. If wearing dentures, make sure they fit comfortably without any discomfort. And if swallowing becomes compromised, consume softer foods and chew thoroughly to reduce the risk of choking.
Social isolation can play a significant role on health, as feelings of loneliness may reduce appetite and compromise energy. Reduced energy levels can further create depressive moods and create a vicious cycle. To avoid or break the progression of isolation, foster and support elderly's independence - partake at senior or civic centers, garden and cook with family members, play games, any sort of environment to prevent sad moods and loneliness.
Meal Delivery Service
Silver Cuisine, a new extension from bistroMD, was created with individuals 50 years plus and seniors in mind. The non-subscription, a la carte, gourmet meal delivery service offers well-balanced meals right to seniors' doorsteps. The delivery and convenience of quality nutrition helps overcome the biggest obstacle seniors face - maintaining good health to stay at home and remain independent. If this seems like a good fit you or your loved one, learn more about Silver Cuisine here.