As the days start getting shorter and cooler, people often gravitate towards heartier, heavier meals. This becomes even more common once the holiday season begins. While sharing rich and tasty meals with friends and family can be a wonderful experience, it is important to consider the health and wellbeing of older individuals. As people age, their dietary needs change; decadent holiday meals begin to take a greater toll on their bodies.
With all this in mind, it is important to keep your aging loved ones in mind whether you are planning for family meals or helping them with their own grocery shopping. To fully understand the importance of nutrition for seniors, you must learn more about the changes that occur in their body and how their eating habits begin to affect them differently as a result. Read on for an explanation of the changes older individuals begin to experience and how you can help them maintain optimal health
Why is senior nutrition so important?
Of course, it is important to maintain a healthy diet at any stage of your life. However, it can become harder to do as you age, and the stakes of not doing so get higher. There are many reasons why nutrition habits decline with age. For one thing, the senses become less sharp. Reductions in taste and smell can reduce the satisfaction of eating and lead to poor food choices. Eating can also be made more difficult due to declining tooth health, mobility-related challenges, and side effects of medication. This presents an unfortunate contradiction with the need for seniors to eat healthier. According to Dana DeSilva, Ph.D., of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, “Older adults are at greater risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer — as well as health conditions related to changes in muscle and bone mass, such as osteoporosis.”
How can seniors eat healthier?
It is important that older adults eat a well-rounded diet that provides the vitamins and nutrients required to combat malnutrition and deficiencies. These include vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, folic acid, calcium, and niacin. These requirements can be made easier by taking related supplements and multivitamins, which ensure that levels remain consistent even if daily vitamin- and nutrient-rich meals are not feasible. They should also avoid saturated and trans fats, as well as empty calories such as those derived from snack foods like chips and candy.
Keep these guidelines in mind as you plan the next family meal with your aging loved one or while helping them shop. Be sure to check out the nutritional information of the food you plan to serve to see if your menu choices or grocery list align with the nutritional needs of older individuals.
If you would like to learn more about a non-profit Ontario senior living community with multiple levels of care and delicious, healthy cuisine, contact Inland Christian Home. Call us today at (909) 983-0084 or reach us online.