As we grow older, our metabolism slows and we tend to be less active in our everyday lives. Because of this, a senior’s diet will continuously evolve to require fewer and fewer calories. This does not, however, mean they need fewer nutrients: in fact, the need for essential vitamins and minerals increases. This translates into a necessary switch from larger, less rigid meals to smaller, nutrient-dense meals that are rich in disease-fighting properties and low on empty, processed calories.
It’s recommended that seniors living alone or receiving in-home care follow a modified food pyramid that’s been developed specifically for older adults. This pyramid reflects the reduced caloric intake of seniors while still fulfilling their specific dietary needs with emphasis on:
- Whole, enriched, fortified grains and cereals like brown rice and rolled oats
- Bright, colorful vegetables (make one serving per day raw)
- Fresh fruit, berries and melon
- Low- and non-fat dairy products such as low-lactose milk or yogurt
- Dry beans and nuts, fish, poultry, lean meat and eggs (avoid fatty meats like bacon)
- Liquid vegetable oils and soft spreads low in saturated and trans fats
- Fluid intake
Proper hydration is also essential for every senior requiring in home care, as they experience declining thirst sensation that could lead to dehydration. Certain medications will also affect water retention. Eight or more eight-ounce glasses of water per day will help curb dehydration, constipation, and kidney failure. If that requirement is too difficult to fulfill, or not recommended by the senior’s physician, due to a medical condition requiring fluid restriction, try foods and beverages with high water content such as celery, low-sodium vegetable juice, and non-dairy soups.
Even with your best intentions in mind, getting older adults to eat healthfully isn’t always easy. To encourage nutritious habits, try adding spices or a squeeze of lemon juice to make food more appetizing. Peanut butter and light cheese are also simple, tasty, nutrient-boosting additions to snacks and sandwiches. And products like meal replacement shakes can provide nutrients to seniors in home care who have trouble keeping weight on or eating solid meals.
Many older adults- even those who eat well- may have vitamin deficiencies and should check with their doctor or in-home care provider to see if they need supplements. Some common vitamin deficiencies are B12, which is difficult for seniors to absorb; vitamin D from lack of sunlight; and calcium for those who don’t enjoy dairy or are lactose intolerant.
At Nightingale Homecare, our caregivers offer a higher level of in-home care that includes nutritious meal preparation under a care plan written by a Registered Nurse and approved by the physician. Our compassionate and highly trained caregivers are available around the clock, and are widely considered to be among the top rated homecare providers in the state. From accompanying your elderly loved one on physical activities to helping them shop for healthy food, the physical and emotional well-being of your senior relative is our number one priority. To learn more about the heartfelt senior services provided by Nightingale Homecare, call (602) 504-1555 or visit us online.