It’s common for your loved one’s dietary preferences to change but many times, seniors require significant changes in their diet that are difficult to make. Whenever a change in diet is needed, it can be hard for your loved one to know what the best plan is.
If you're having trouble with helping your loved one achieve a healthy diet, it’s best to help them adjust slowly and work with a licensed healthcare professional. CaraVita Home Care knows that maintaining a healthy diet can be overwhelming. We want to share five nutrition tips for older adults that can help your loved one establish a healthier diet.
Water is Gold
Drinking water is one of the most basic needs of the body, but it is also one of the most important. According to the National Institute on Aging, many of the reactions in the body require water, including digesting food, absorbing nutrients, and removing waste.
As adults age, it’s common for them to drink less water since their sense of thirst diminishes. Not only is this bad for their diet, but it can cause complications with existing health conditions as well. Make sure to include a glass of water with each of your loved one’s meals and stress the importance of being hydrated.
Remember to Eat
While most people may not have trouble knowing when they’re hungry, it’s common for older adults to experience a loss of appetite as they age. Missing meals can drastically reduce the number of calories your loved one is consuming and can affect their health in negative ways.
If your loved one has Alzheimer's, dementia, or another memory impairment condition, it's helpful to remind them to have their meals throughout the day. You could try using a calendar, alarm, or sticky note to tell them that they should eat.
Temperature is Key
Proper food preparation ensures that the food your loved one is eating is safe to consume. If your loved one consumes food that was cooked improperly, it could pose serious health risks. When preparing food for your loved one, use a thermometer to make sure the meal is cooked thoroughly. Doing so can prevent harmful bacteria in the food from being consumed and prevent food-borne illnesses.
Do some research before cooking any new recipes and follow the directions carefully. Each dish has unique temperature requirements, so adjust your temperature accordingly when making a new recipe.
Study the Label
Most food products have a nutrition facts label to list all of the ingredients and nutritional information about the product. Although nutrition labels may not be very visually appealing, they are important to look at when making decisions about what to eat. Often, older adults don't pay attention to the labels and aren't getting the daily nutrients their body needs.
When reading the nutrition facts label, make sure to look at these three things:
- Serving size
- Percent daily value (DV%)
- Essential nutrients
Ensuring that your loved one is maintaining a healthy diet is crucial. We recommend consulting with a doctor to learn more about which plan is right for your loved one before making any significant changes in their diet.
Make A Plan
Whether your loved one is looking to lose unhealthy weight or maintain their current diet, planning can help to guide your loved one along the way. Laying out a plan can make a nutritional transition more straightforward to visualize and more feasible to accomplish.
Many people who have a specific diet plan their meals or prepare them ahead of time to maintain the diet. There is a multitude of foods that contain essential nutrients, so make sure to consider a variety of alternative food options in your loved one's diet when planning their meals.
By speaking to a physician, you can develop a health plan that includes all of the calories and nutrients that your loved one needs to maintain a healthy diet.
Things to Remember
Once you've developed a robust health plan with your loved one, you're going to have to help them maintain it. While coming up with a plan and getting educated on the importance of senior nutrition is a great start, the most challenging part of a change in diet can be to develop a habit of good health.
Practice these tips and remember to always consult a physician when making changes to diet and exercise.
To learn more about CaraVita Home Care and our services, please visit our page!