People of all ages, including adults, need to make good food choices. With age, nutritional needs may change, and it’s important to put healthy eating first to stay on top of medical conditions that might arise. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why seniors might struggle with healthy eating, from not being able to do their own grocery shopping to a lack of confidence to prepare unfamiliar foods. The good news is that with the support of their in-home care team, many barriers can be pushed to the side. Consider the information below when encouraging seniors to make healthy food choices.
Tips For Encouraging Smart Food Choices in Seniors
It’s important to include a variety of nutrients and encourage seniors to eat a wide range of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods give them the vitamins, minerals, and fiber they need without being too high in calories. In addition, it’s a good idea for them to focus on fiber as it is crucial for digestive health and reducing constipation. Just as important as what they eat is how much they eat. As seniors age, their metabolism slows down, so watching how much they eat is important. In-home care providers can monitor portions and educate seniors on serving sizes while introducing them to new foods through healthy meal planning. Additional tips are listed below.
- Seniors may be more likely to get dehydrated than younger people. Because of this, they need to drink water throughout the day, even if they might not be thirsty. If seniors struggle with plain water, they can choose herbal tea or listen to suggestions from their medical team. Above all, avoiding or limiting sugary drinks and too much coffee is important as they can cause dehydration.
- Seniors should also limit the amount of sodium they eat. Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure and other health problems. The in-home care team can teach seniors to read food labels and choose foods with less salt. They can also encourage them to eat fresher foods when possible.
- Protein is important for muscle strength and health in general. For seniors, this is essential as their muscular strength tends to decline with age. Loved ones can encourage them to eat fish, chicken, beans, lentils, tofu, Greek yogurt, and other lean protein sources in their meals.
- Bone health depends on getting enough calcium and vitamin D. Seniors can get the amount they need from eating calcium-rich foods like dairy, leafy greens, and plant-based foods that have been enriched. Sunlight and foods with added vitamin D can also help them get the necessary vitamin D.
- Processed foods and added sugars often lack important nutrients and worsen health problems. Seniors should focus on whole, raw foods as much as possible and cut back on sugary snacks, desserts, and drinks. This can be difficult if they’ve never focused on these foods before. The in-home care team can go to the store with them, point out good suggestions, and teach them how to prep and cook the food.
Remember that it’s important to approach these suggestions with understanding and care for different seniors’ needs and cultures. When seniors feel their needs are considered, they will feel compelled to accept the suggestions more readily. For loved ones and the in-home care team, it’s essential to maintain consistency with seniors who struggle with their food choices. Still, with the right support, they can live healthier lives.