As we age, our bodies change. Metabolism slows, activity decreases, and certain illnesses impact our nutrition. Whether you are a senior or you’re caring for a senior, it’s important to know the relationship between nutrition and aging. Consider these 10 recommendations about nutrition for seniors.
Some things never change. If you had a sweet tooth when you were young, chances are that you’ll have a sweet tooth as a senior, too. Certain diagnoses, like Alzheimer’s disease, have been linked to sweet cravings. If you’re diabetic, steer clear altogether. If you’re not, limit yourself to maybe one good dessert a day.
Watch Cholesterol And Fatty Foods
Fried foods may taste good, but they torment your arteries. Clogged arteries are linked to heart disease, stroke, and some forms of dementia. Opt for baked or grilled instead of fried.
Recognize Slower Metabolism
You may have been able to eat anything in sight in your 20s. Chances are that won’t be the case in your 60s and beyond. As your metabolism slows, seniors tend to gain weight. To accommodate for the change, consider eating smaller portions.
Prevent Overeating/Under Eating
Both obesity and malnutrition will exacerbate any number of health concerns in the elderly. For seniors who have been diagnosed with a dementia related illness, nutrition can become tricky. Sometimes they forget to eat. Other times they eat again because they forgot they’d already eaten. In these types of situations, it’s best for a loved one or caregiver to monitor meal preparation and intake.
Provide Balanced Meals/Grocery Shopping
When you don’t feel well, the last thing you want to do is prepare a meal. This is especially true for the elderly. To help counteract this tendency, offer to go grocery shopping or to prepare balanced meals for them. You can also look into organizations like Meals on Wheels for help providing nutritious options.
Make Meals a Social Event
If there is an elderly person in your life who you suspect isn’t eating well, stop by to eat a meal with them. This gives them something to look forward to, ensures they eat, and provides them with a much needed social interaction.
You’ve heard it a hundred times: the importance of exercise. The value of physical activity doesn’t diminish as you age. Exercise stimulates your appetite and works to reduce weight gain, both of which can be challenges seniors face. You don’t have to run the three miles you did in your 30s, but do something physical every day.
Eat Nutrient Rich Food
If you’ve lost your appetite or nothing tastes like it used to, make sure that the food you do eat is full of nutrients. In other words, make your calories count. Snacking on chips or drinking sodas may give you a temporary energy boost, but they do nothing to actually nourish your body.
Note Things That Affect Your Appetite
“I’m just not hungry.” That may be true, but your body still needs nourishment. If you’re depressed after the loss of a loved one or a diagnosis you never wanted to hear, you may lose your appetite. Some medications the elderly take also impact appetite. Eat nutrient rich foods anyway to give you body the vitamins it needs to function properly.
Drink Plenty Of Water
Water keeps your blood flowing, helps absorb nutrients, aids in digestion, and helps your body to eliminate toxins. Stay hydrated!