Dietary needs evolve as people age, and seniors need to know how to manage those changes to maintain physical health and wellness. Older adults need to take an active role in shaping their diet and nutrition habits to ensure more energy, better disease prevention and quality of life.
One in three hospital patients is malnourished upon admission and 45% of Canadians admitted to hospital for more than 2 days suffer from malnutrition.
Seniors should consult their physician to discuss their individual needs. Healthcare professionals can also help seniors and their families create and implement healthy eating plans.
These plans often include:
- Increased protein and fiber intake. Protein and fiber are important nutrients for seniors. Foods high in fiber can help maintain healthy digestive systems as we age, and increasing protein intake can help seniors increase or maintain energy and strength.
- Whole grains have multiple benefits. Whole grains are also fiber-rich foods that not only aid the digestive process but promote healthy hearts for seniors. Cereal, rice and bread made with whole grains can easily be found at any grocery store and provide several serving choices to meet recommended daily requirements.
- Calcium is a key component in maintaining bone strength. Calcium can help prevent osteoporosis, especially when calcium intake is consistent. Preventing osteoporosis is critical for seniors – especially those that are at risk for falls.
- Hydration is critical at any age. Physical changes that occur with age make hydration even more important for older adults. For those that are less inclined to drink water, there are alternatives – milk, juice and broth are all hydrating liquids, and there are hydrating foods including watermelon, cucumbers and grapes.
If engaging in good eating habits is a struggle, there are steps seniors can take to ensure that they are getting proper nutrition. In addition to consulting a physician about diet or health concerns they might have, they can also try the following tactics to get back on the right track:
- Make meals a social occasion– Sharing a meal is one of the most enjoyable ways to ensure that someone is eating well. This can include making something healthy and delicious for others, or reaching out to people that love to cook healthy food and offering them some company at meal times.
- Make healthy eating fit your budget– Good food doesn’t have to be expensive. A doctor or nutritionist can point patients to budget friendly, nutritious food options. And, maintaining a healthy lifestyle saves money on medical care in the future.
- Shop for healthy foods– Having a kitchen stocked with healthy snacks and meal options is one of the most important steps to maintaining a balanced diet.
- Encourage people to ask for help– If someone has concerns about their ability to plan healthy meals, shop for the groceries or if they just aren’t getting the nutrition they need, tell them to ask for help! In-home caregivers, delivery services, family, friends and medical professionals can all help older adults reach their nutrition goals.
Comfort Keepers®Can Help
If someone is struggling to maintain healthy eating habits, consider getting support from the trusted care team at Comfort Keepers®. Our caregivers can help with grocery shopping, meal preparation, and can help support physician-prescribed exercise regimens and diets. Our goal is to see that clients have the means to find the joy and happiness in each day, regardless of age or acuity.
To learn more about our in-home care services, contact your local Comfort Keepers location today.
Canadian Malnutrition Task Force. “Nutrition Care in Canadian Hospitals Study.” Web 2019.
Mayo Clinic. “Senior health: How to prevent and detect malnutrition.” Web. 2017.
Next Avenue, “Malnutrition is Affecting Too Many Older Adults.” Web. 2016.
Public Health Post. “Malnutrition in Older Adults.” Web. 2017
Healthline. “How Your Nutritional Needs Change as you Age.” Web. 2017.