Elderly Nutrition – Why Proper Nutrition is Important for Seniors

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,506
    Mary Alexander with Home Instead Senior Care provides some tips for making sure your senior loved ones are getting proper nutrition. This video will focus on why nutrition is important.

    Mary Alexander: Hi! I'm Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care. And today I'm going to provide some tips for making sure your senior loved ones are getting proper nutrition. It seems like every time you turn on the TV, read a newspaper or click on a website, there is some new study giving us a whole new set of rules to eat by; even for middle aged adults knowing what and when you can eat, can be confusing. As our parents age, there are a number of possible changes that take place that can make eating less enjoyable. Reduce their appetites and even make the act of cooking a meal, feel more like a task than a pleasure. Let's talk about these changes and challenges in specifics.

    First our life style changes. If one of your parents has passed away, your newly single mom or dad may not know how to cook or may not feel like cooking for one, or if you are parents are on a limited budget, they might have trouble affording a balanced healthy diet. Activity levels can also affect health. Seniors often cut back on activities for physical and medical reasons. If they continue to eat the same amount of calories, weight gain can result. Increased weight can also come with the normal slow down in our metabolism because the body is burning fewer calories. Your parent's sense of taste and smell may also diminish. So they may be inclined to season and salt their food more heavily than before, even though they need less salt. It may also mean that they can't distinguish food that's gone bad and could potentially eat something that makes them sick. A loss of taste and smell can also make eating less enjoyable. So they might not eat at all, which can result in weight loss. Changes in appetite can also result from loneliness, a medical condition or prescription medications. Changes in your parent's digestive system can also make it more difficult for them to process certain vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B12, B6 and Folic Acid, which are necessary to maintain mental alertness, a keen memory and good circulation.

    All of these challenges might seem overwhelming. But there are ways you can help your parents overcome these situations. In general, some important guidelines for seniors include reduce sodium or salt to help prevent water retention and high-blood pressure. Monitor fat intake in order to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Consume more Calcium and Vitamin D for bone health. Eat more fiber rich foods to prevent constipation, cut back on sugars and on dry fruits. Make sure to get the recommended amount of important vitamins and minerals. Increase water intake and participate in regular physical activity, about thirty minutes three times a week. Healthy eating can keep your parent's body and mind sharp, and extend quality of life. While both men and women need to practice good eating habits, each gender has some specific needs that need to be met. Of course every senior should consult with their doctor to discuss which supplements and vitamins may be best suited to the senior's specific health needs.

    However older men need Calcium and Vitamin D to help maintain strong and healthy bones. Fiber helps keep belly function normal and is good for his heart. Increasing Potassium intake along with decreasing Sodium or Salt may lower a man's risk of high-blood pressure. For weight control and over all health, it is recommended men should limit fat calories to 20 to 35% of their diet. Most of the fat should come from heart healthy unsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, almonds and avocados.

    Healthy older men without heart disease should limit their saturated fat, which comes from meat, full fat dairy and fried foods to 10% of their total fat calories. Men with high cholesterol need to reduce that amount to 7%.

    Women on the other hand benefit from a balanced and varied diet. It should include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, dairy, healthy fat and fluids. In particular older women typically need calcium and vitamin D to keep bones and teeth strong. Zinc for wound healing and good vision and Vitamin B12 for energy and cognitive function. Older women often do not feel thirsty, even when they need fluids, putting them at risk for dehydration. So they need to drink water and fluids like 100% juices often through out the day. So now that we've explained some of the special nutrition needs seniors have, let's talk about how to spot problems and what you can do to help.