As people age, nutritional needs change and it becomes increasingly important to eat healthy, well-balanced diets. To ensure that your loved one gets the adequate amounts of vitamins and nutrients to support daily activities, familiarize yourself with some of the common barriers to a healthy senior diet.
Changes in Metabolic RateSeniors have slower metabolisms and often need to consume fewer calories during the day to maintain a healthy weight. It is important that caregivers avoid serving processed foods, which are low in nutritional value, because they can cause weight gain, but still allow a senior to be malnourished.
Loss of AppetitePhysical changes such as loss of taste and smell perception can make meals unappetizing or bland and is often one of the reasons seniors do not get essential vitamins and nutrients. The introduction of new medications can also result in adverse side effects that leave seniors without an appetite.
Digestive Problems and ConstipationLarge meals become more difficult to digest with age. Seniors are also more prone to constipation, which occurs when there is not enough fiber in the diet paired with reduced movement and activity.
Poor Oral HealthNew or ill-fitting dentures can make it hard for a senior to comfortably chew foods and they may, as a result, skip meals and miss out on key nutrients. Dental problems and poor oral hygiene can also contribute to a senior not wanting to eat at mealtime.
How to Help a Senior Loved One
To avoid the above common problems and ensure your loved one is getting enough protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins, concentrate on the following:
- Incorporating whole grains, vegetables (especially dark, leafy greens), fresh fruit, nuts, and lean meats and fish into regular meals
- Serving smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day
- Preparing foods that can be easily chewed and digested
If you are unable to assist your loved one with regular meal preparation and he or she is struggling to prepare healthy meals independently, learn more about hourly home care in New Hampshire from Home Care Assistance.
Home Care Assistance is a trusted, local provider of senior home care, offering services on an as-needed basis. Our trained caregivers can ensure seniors eat regular meals, take mediations on time, and can also assist with housekeeping and transportation. Call us today at 603-471-3004 for more information or to request a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a friendly Care Manager.