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As we know, our bodies change when we age. But what we might not know are the important changes to our nutrition needs when we reach 65. Older adults’ dietary needs are unique, and managing those needs is vital for preventing and managing chronic diseases, weight loss or gain, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and a number of other health and wellness challenges. By taking an interest in nutrition, seniors can find the balance between a healthy diet and a great quality of life!
For seniors and their families, there can be many challenges to eating well. Healthy food may seem too expensive. Cooking may be too difficult for a person who has trouble with activities of daily living. Or perhaps a loved one struggles with lack of appetite or difficulty chewing and swallowing. At Your Side’s caregivers are specially trained to help their clients overcome these challenges in a positive, healthy way. Our caregivers can introduce small changes that make a big difference, ensuring the people in their care get all the nutrients they need.
Meal planning is a great strategy for ensuring older adults get the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients they need to support a healthy lifestyle. Whether the focus is on managing a chronic condition or simply staying fit, a solid, predictable meal plan can support those goals. A meal plan takes into consideration meal timing, the types of food you eat, the food combinations that will keep you interested, and achieving the right portion sizes.
At Your Side Home Care’s caregivers are there to help you identify areas where nutrition could be improved and overcome any barriers to that goal. We employ a variety of strategies to make healthful eating more achievable:
One of the more important changes in older adults’ dietary needs is getting more protein. But because seniors typically also need fewer overall calories than they used to, focusing on foods high in nutrients and low in calories is key. Think about low-fat and fat-free dairy, lean meats and seafood, whole grains, eggs, beans, and plenty of fruits & veggies. We use the MyPlate program to guide seniors and their families toward healthy, well-balanced snacks and meals.
Seniors need to be aware of their sodium intake because kidney function often decreases as we age, making it harder to expel excess sodium from the body. Sodium is both an important element for maintaining nerve and muscle function and a potential risk factor for heart disease when consumed in excess. People aged 51-70 should be getting at least 1,300mg of sodium per day, and people aged 70 and older should be getting 1,200mg. The maximum amount of sodium for both groups is 2,300mg.
Protein is an essential nutrient for stemming the tide of muscle loss that occurs naturally as we age. Getting enough protein can help prevent falls, support the immune system’s fight against illnesses, and ensure that blood carries enough oxygen throughout the body. Of course, you can get protein from meat, poultry, and eggs. But if you can’t get enough from those sources, try adding more beans, seafood, fortified dairy and soy products, peas, and lentils.
At Your Side Home Care is proud to offer our senior nutrition white paper. This white paper of simple recipes will help families caring for a loved one make delicious and nutritious meals that support dietary goals—without taking hours out of the day to prepare.