The metabolism of seniors slows as they age. Elderly adults require fewer calories than they did when they were younger. Eating excess sugar and saturated fats leads to unnecessary and unhealthy weight gain. Additionally, the aging body requires additional doses of certain nutrients. Allcare Home Health caregivers love to cook and our RN will discuss meal planning with families during the assessment!
Seniors are strongly advised to avoid foods with empty calories. Empty calories mean foods that are high in calories and low in nutrition. Fast food, foods that are high in saturated fats such as potato chips and sweet store-bought baked goods are particularly unhealthy, as well as foods that are high in sodium and cholesterol. As part of their in-home care, our home health caregivers will sit down with their clients to discuss meal preparation and menu planning to make mealtime not only healthy but enjoyable.
Senior Diets Should Include the Following
- Healthy Fats – Certain fats are healthy for the aging body. Seniors should consume healthy fats like polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Examples of these fats are avocados, seeds, nuts, olive oil, and fish. Many seniors enjoy a breakfast of sliced avocado on 15-grain toast and a cup of tea. It’s fast, easy and healthy.
- Calcium and Vitamin D – Calcium and Vitamin D are extremely important to the aging body for bone health. These nutrients can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, milk, canned fish (such as tuna), and fortified cereals.
- Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is also essential to senior health. Many people over 50 do not consume enough Vitamin B12. This nutrient is found in lean meats.
- Potassium – Seniors’ risk for high blood pressure may be reduced by consuming sufficient potassium and reducing sodium. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of potassium. Beans are also rich in potassium. Instead of seasoning them with salt, use herbs and spices.
- Fiber – Foods that are rich in fiber are essential for senior health because they help seniors to stay regular and lower their risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Water – As you age, your body’s ability to conserve water decreases, so you don’t feel thirsty as often. However, your body still needs water. Dehydration causes drowsiness and confusion among other side effects, so it is essential to stay hydrated. If you are following the recommended high fiber diet, you need to drink a lot of water because fiber absorbs plenty of water. With our home care services, Allcare Home Health caregivers are trained to encourage hydration and to watch for signs of dehydration.
Some researchers consider The Mediterranean Diet and The Mind Diet two of the healthiest choices for older adults due to their connection with enhanced cognitive function. The Mediterranean Diet consists primarily of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, potatoes, nuts, olive oil, and fish. Processed foods, fried and fast foods, snack foods, red meat, poultry, and whole-fat dairy foods are not usually eaten on The Mediterranean Diet. The Mind Diet is a modified form of The Mediterranean Diet focused on 10 types of foods that are considered “brain foods”: leafy green vegetables, regular vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, seafood, poultry, olive oil, and wine. On this diet, red meat, butter and stick margarine, cheese, pastries, sweets, and fried/fast foods are considered unhealthy. Of course, it’s important to discuss any specialized diet or diet changes with your doctor before starting it.
As we age, we should focus on maintaining a healthy body weight. Being physically active can help you stay strong and independent as you grow older. If you are overweight or obese, weight loss can improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of disease and disability.
Allcare Home Health caregivers offer healthy meal preparation as part of the Client’s Activities of Daily Living. One of our experienced RNs will discuss meal planning with you at the new client assessment. This information will become part of the client’s Plan of Care. Call us at (919) 301-0236 or fill out our online contact form today for your home care needs!
Ref: Assisting Hands Home Care, Brain Futures, Aging.com, ChooseMyPlate.gov