Are the seniors in Your Life Eating Well? No matter your age, it is important to get the right amount of nutrients every day. However, the elderly are often at a higher risk for certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to a variety of factors, such as low activity, slow body functions, comparatively a weaker immunity or poorly balanced diet and medication consumption. Talk to your dietitian and doctor about your changing nutritional needs as you age, and ask him/her about making changes to your diet or taking supplements to help prevent any of the nutritional deficiencies.
Studies show that a good diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, heart diseases and certain cancers. As you age, you might need less energy. But you still need just as many of the nutrients in food. To get the proper nutrition for the elderly, refer the following guidelines related to food and nutrition.
Elderly men and women have a higher risk of B-12 deficiency because their stomachs do not contain an adequate amount of hydrochloric acid, which helps the body absorb the B-12 in food. For this reason, those over 50 should get the bulk of their vitamin B-12 through supplements or fortified foods like cereals, milk etc.
Zinc is important for immune system health, wound healing, and blood clotting and thyroid function. Symptoms of zinc deficiency include loss of appetite, lack of taste or smell, hair loss, skin problems and depression. Men need 11 milligrams of zinc a day, and women need 8 milligrams, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. You can get this amount by eating foods like red meat, fish, poultry, cheese, legumes, whole grains and sunflower seeds.
Calcium and Vitamin D
As you get older, your risks of losing bone mass and developing osteoporosis increase. Along with regular exercise, consuming adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D can help keep your skeletal system strong and slow bone loss. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, men and women over the age of 65 needs between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day, and good food sources include dairy products like milk and cheese. Early morning sunshine is the best source of vitamin D.
Other Considerations regarding Nutrition for the Elderly
Offer nutritionally-dense foods. Since many seniors aren't eating as much as they should, the food they do eat must be as nutritious as possible. Encourage whole, unprocessed foods that are balanced in calories and nutrients for their size.
Enhance aromas and flavors. Appealing foods may help stimulate appetite, especially in someone whose senses of taste and smell aren't what they used to be.
Make eating a social event. Many seniors who live alone or suffer from depression may stop cooking meals, lose their appetites, and depend on convenience foods. If you are worried that your parent or grandparent isn't eating properly, make meals a family occasion.
Encourage healthy snacking. Many seniors don’t like to eat large meals or don't feel hungry enough to eat three full meals a day. One solution is to encourage or plan for several mini-meals throughout the day.
Nutrition for the Elderly-How can they stay on track Eating healthily is an ongoing commitment, but it’s easier than you think. Here are some tips for staying on course:
Ask for help. Admit when you need a hand to shop, cook, and plan meals and find someone to help. It’s important for your health not to revert to frozen dinners or takeout food.
Variety, variety, variety! Try eating and cooking something new as soon as boredom strikes.
Make every meal “do-able.” Healthy eating needn't be a big production. Keep it simple and you’ll stick with it. Stocking the pantry and fridge with wholesome choices will make it easier to prepare quick, tasty meals.
Set the mealtime mood. Set the table, light candles, play music, or eat outside or by a window when possible. Tidying yourself and your space will help you enjoy the moment.
Break habits. If you eat watching TV, try eating while reading or use the time to catch up with your spouse or a friend. If you eat at the counter, set the table instead.