If you have a senior or an older adult in your life, you’ve probably already spent a good amount of time thinking about senior health. When it comes to eating right, how can seniors get the best, most rounded diet possible, especially at an age when a simple task like going out to the grocery store can feel like a huge, stressful hassle? If your friend or aging parent is struggling with eating right, there are a few ways you can help. Whether your senior is already getting in-home care from Seniors Helping Seniors, has moved in with you, or is still living alone, getting comfortable with the basics of senior nutrition shouldn’t be a struggle. If you’re concerned about your senior finding better ways to eat a consistently balanced diet, stop worrying. Here’s a helpful way to encourage a healthier diet for your senior in 5 easy steps.
1. Keep an Eye on Calories
As we age, our bodies naturally need fewer calories to function. Our appetites also gradually lessen through the years. Although this transition happens over time, the two shifts might not necessarily coincide with one another. This means that, while our bodies might need less, we still feel like we need to eat the amount we always have. This is why it’s important to keep a lookout for calories, whether it means reading the nutrition facts on the box of packaged goods or switching out processed foods for fruits and veggies. As our bodies age, our need for whole grains, proteins, and the natural vitamins we get from produce increases, leading us to react differently to processed or artificial foods over time.
2. Build Up Immunity
One of the core concerns for aging bodies has to do with making sure we keep our intake of vitamins and minerals high. Though a lot of basic vitamins and oils like calcium and Omega 3 can be found in produce, dairy, and meat, it’s always a good idea to introduce regular vitamins and supplements into our routine. As we age, our bodies become more and more vulnerable to common diseases like cold and flu. Without a strong immune system, the germs an elder catches at the supermarket could have painful, long-term effects.
3. Double Up on Hydration
Drinking the right amount of water is crucial for health at every age. However, as a senior over 65, keeping hydrated becomes even more essential for day-to-day functioning and overall health. Drinking the recommended eight-or-more cups of water a day will help strengthen a senior’s immunity system and help to flush out toxins in the system. It will also help make exercise easier for seniors who prefer to keep an active lifestyle. It’s also a good idea to encourage seniors to limit caffeine intake so that their bodies will have a better chance of keeping hydrated throughout the day. This is especially crucial for seniors who deal with sleeplessness or have trouble feeling rested through the night. Keeping a glass of water at the bedside and drinking a full 12-ounce cup with at least every meal will help seniors integrate proper hydration into their routine.
4. Keep Oral Health in Mind
As we get older, the care and attention we give to our teeth and gums becomes even more crucial for our continued health. Everyone knows that bones need calcium to survive: This goes double for keeping a healthy set of teeth as we age. Even if a senior is taking calcium supplements, it’s important to keep a healthy, consistent intake of calcium-rich food and drink as part of a healthy diet. Dairy, fish, and vegetables can provide a great dose of calcium, along with supplements and foods high in iron. It’s also a good idea to encourage frequent trips to the dentist to keep tabs on tooth health. Problems with senior oral care can lead to a lot of unpleasant consequences down the road, such as headaches and decreased stamina.
5. Don’t Skimp on Protein
Even though fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are hugely important parts of the food pyramid, it’s extremely important for seniors, in particular, to pay attention to their protein intake. Whether it comes in the form of meat, fish, beans, or soy, keeping up with the recommended daily dose of protein will do wonders for keeping a senior’s energy up and their memory retention high. Eating a lot of protein encourages physical activity and better metabolism for seniors. It also provides tons of nutrients and vitamins in natural doses. Even if a senior is taking supplements for things like iron and calcium, nothing can beat the high levels of iron and other beneficial vitamins in protein-rich foods.