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What Nutrients Are Especially Important for Seniors?

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Optimal nutrition is essential for seniors. If your senior loved one fails to get enough of the recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals, he or she may be at a heightened risk for bacterial and viral infections as well as chronic health disorders. Here are some essential nutrients your loved one needs to maintain optimal health.

Protein

It’s essential that your loved one consumes enough protein to maintain muscle function and keep the skin healthy. If your loved one has limited mobility or is bedbound, he or she may be at risk for developing pressure ulcers. If enough protein-rich foods such as lean meats, fish, legumes, and dairy products aren’t consumed on a daily basis, decubitus ulcers may be slow to heal. Also, if your loved one has diabetes or circulation problems, he or she may be at risk for developing stasis ulcers on the ankles and feet. Adequate protein consumption may help these ulcers heal faster and reduce the risk for infection. 

If your loved one experiences pressure ulcers, stasis ulcers, or any of the other conditions mentioned above, home care can be of immense value. If your senior loved one needs around-the-clock assistance at home, the New Hampshire live-in care professionals at Home Care Assistance are here to help. Our proprietary Balanced Care Method was designed to promote longevity by encouraging seniors to focus on healthy eating, regular exercise, mental engagement, and other important lifestyle factors.

Fiber

Older people may have diminished colonic motility and be more prone to constipation and fecal impaction. In addition to drinking plenty of water throughout the day, seniors need to consume the recommended daily allowance of fiber to prevent constipation and the uncomfortable symptoms associated with it, such as abdominal cramping, bloating, nausea, and back pain. Fiber-rich foods include bran cereals, granola, fruits and vegetables, and beans. While fiber is an important component of a healthy diet, consuming too much may lead to severe gas pains in certain seniors. 

Some seniors may need extra help getting the right amount of fiber and hydrating properly every day. A professional caregiver can help your loved one choose healthy foods and remind him or her to drink plenty of fluids. In New Hampshire, senior care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, is another essential nutrient seniors need to maintain optimal health. Vitamin C boosts immune function so your loved one is more resistant to infections. It can also prevent an uncommon condition known as scurvy, which can cause muscle weakness, corkscrew hair growth on the legs, fatigue, and bleeding gums. Also, if your loved one develops skin breakdown, vitamin C can restore healing, promote effective blood flow to the affected area, prevent wound infection, and enhance optimal collagen production. Vitamin C–rich foods include citrus fruits, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables. If your loved one is unable to tolerate citrus fruits because of digestive issues, talk to his or her physician about adding vitamin C supplements.

Potassium

If your loved one doesn’t meet his or her recommended daily allowance for potassium, cardiovascular and blood pressure problems may develop. Low potassium levels, or hypokalemia, can cause chest pain, cardiac arrhythmia, dizziness, and fainting. Encourage your loved one to eat potassium-rich foods such as bananas, almonds, and avocados. However, if your loved one is unable to tolerate these foods, supplemental potassium may be an option. While it’s important for older adults to consume optimal amounts of potassium, consuming too much may be dangerous for some people. For example, if your loved one takes a medication known as propranolol, which treats chest pain, abnormal heart rhythms, and high blood pressure, increasing potassium intake may be dangerous. Propranolol can increase serum potassium levels, and people who take this medication may need to decrease their consumption of potassium instead of increasing it.

Making sure your loved one gets all the essential nutrients in his or her diet may be difficult to manage on your own. Fortunately, help is available. In New Hampshire, home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. If your loved one needs professional care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our Care Managers today at (603) 471-3004.

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