It can be easy to understand how good nutrition is beneficial – consuming the necessary nutrients powers your body, prevents illness and helps you get better sleep. However, it can be more difficult to actually bring that healthy diet plan into a reality. As you age, that challenge becomes even greater, yet your nutritional needs remain the same or increase. For example, you may require fewer calories if you are less active, but your body still needs nutrients. Other challenges making nutrition for elderly patients difficult include:
- Difficulty making your own meals
- Trouble feeding yourself
- Loss of sense of taste and/or smell
- Problems swallowing or chewing food
- Income limits making it hard to afford food
- Taking medicines that change how food tastes or that cause dry mouth
If you are concerned about your diet or you have questions about how to improve your nutritional intake, it is important to understand what healthy eating for older adults means and how to improve your food choices.
HEALTHY EATING FOR OLDER ADULTS
The nutrition facts for seniors are much the same as those for younger people. It is important for everyone to eat foods with lots of nutrients, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, nuts and seeds and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
Healthy eating for older adults, much like healthy eating at any age, follows certain guidelines:
- Drink enough water
- Stay physically active
- Avoid empty calories
- Select foods that are low in fat and cholesterol
If you are having trouble eating healthy and following those guidelines, it is important to get support. For seniors in need of help, communities like Rosewood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Lake Charles, Louisiana, have teams with expertise in nutrition for seniors and the ability to create plans to support a variety of nutritional needs. If you are not currently living in such a community, there are some ways to improve your daily diet on your own:
- Talk to your primary care physician about your concerns and ask for suggestions
- Ask your dentist to check for chewing difficulties
- Make sure you are drinking plenty of liquids with your meals
- Add a social aspect to your meals
- Try adding snacks throughout the day to ensure you are getting enough calories
- Add texture and flavors to your food to make it more appetizing
10 HEALTHY EATING TIPS FOR SENIORS
Whether you live in a community like Rosewood or you live on your own, it is crucial to understand the basics of building a healthy diet in your golden years. So, if you are working with a specialty chef at a senior community or creating meals on your own, take note of these 10 healthy eating tips for seniors:
- Include foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Foods like salmon, flaxseed and walnuts are proven to prevent inflammation, which can cause some forms of cancer, and to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Consume foods that are high in calcium. Calcium is a nutrient that helps your body to maintain healthy bones and to lower blood pressure. Dairy products, such as cheese and milk, as well as cereals and leafy green vegetables are high in calcium.
- Increase your fiber intake. Fiber-rich foods support healthy digestion and reduce the risk of heart disease. Nuts, wholegrain cereals, brown rice, vegetables and fruit are excellent sources of fiber.
- Drink more water. Dehydration in the elderly is a common concern. If you are dehydrated, you may become confused or drowsy, making daily tasks difficult. It is recommended that adults drink eight glasses of water daily.
- Add in plenty of iron. A lack of iron can make you feel lethargic and tired, which means you may not engage in the activities you enjoy. Foods that are rich in iron include turkey, spinach, quinoa and legumes.
- Get your vitamin D. For elderly people who may be losing calcium in their bones, vitamin D is important to improve the absorption of calcium. It can also protect against type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and multiple sclerosis. Healthy eating for older adults includes items like cereals, juices and milk, which are all high in vitamin D.
- Eat plenty of potassium. It is recommended that older adults consume 4,700 mg of potassium each day. Potassium lowers your chance of kidney stones and reduces blood pressure. Try to add in foods like potatoes, bananas and prunes.
- Consume plenty of foods rich in vitamin B12. Foods that are high in vitamin B12 include milk, poultry and meats. This vitamin is responsible for the production of red blood cells and maintaining nerve function.
- Make sure to include magnesium. Magnesium keeps your immune system and heart healthy and your bones strong. You can find magnesium in fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
- Vitamin C is important. With vitamin C, your body can help repair bones and teeth, as well as help you prevent heart disease and cancer. To get enough vitamin C, eat plenty of vegetables and fruit!
PLANNING FOR A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
At Rosewood Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, we understand the way nutrition powers your life. We prioritize healthy eating for older adults as part of our care plans and teach lessons about nutrition that you can carry forward. Our menus are full of flavor and nutrients designed to support your individual care needs. We provide both social settings to enjoy your meals and room service for those who prefer privacy.
Contact the team at Rosewood today to learn more about our services and support.