Healthy Eating: Nutrition for Older Adults
One of our responsibilities as a caregiver is to make sure that we are giving enough and the right nutrition to our elderly patients. As we grow with age, the demand for proper nutrition and healthy diet increases. It is very important that the person who is in elderly age eats the right kind of food that could sustain his/her physical well-being, most especially those who are suffering from certain kind of diseases or disability.
One important thing to consider is the metabolism of a person approaching old age. It slows down. When your metabolism slows down, your body needs fewer calories but more nutrients. That’s the reason why a caregiver must choose food that gives the best nutritional value to feed his/her elderly patient.
– although some diabetic patients will have some reservations in eating fruits, it is still a better option than food with refined sugar. Fruits have natural sugar in it but it could not harm you if you are eating in moderation. Fruits are packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants that our body needs. You can serve it in slices or make a juice or smoothie out of it. Avoid giving your patient juices in cans or containers and soda or any drinks with artificial flavorings and sugar.
– Vegetables especially the green leafy ones are packed with fiber that could help with your patient’s metabolism. One of the problems of old age is irregular bowel movement. Vegetables can greatly help in reversing this problem. Spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflowers, kale are just a few examples of a fantastic vegetables. You can whip up a healthy chicken soup, broccoli pie or simple stir-fry vegetables every day. This could avoid constipation for older adults.
– As we age, our skeletal muscles are getting weak too. That’s why we need enough servings of protein. But we have to choose a better and healthier kind of protein like lean meat, seafood, eggs, poultry, fish and beans. Avoid red meat or anything packed with fats. Salmon, tuna and sardines are with Omega 3 fats which is healthy for your heart.
Low-Fat Dairy Food
– have some servings of milk, yoghurt and cheese every day. Choose the low fat kind for it’s also essential for your bones. Calcium can be obtained by eating enough low fat dairy products. Use olive oil in cooking rather than other plant oils. Avoid saturated fats for this can cause an elevation of the cholesterol which is fatal for heart diseases. That is why it is very important to limit or avoid butter, margarine, high fat creams and processed meats like patties, sausages, canned goods and sauces. Trans or hydrogenated fat can also increase the risk of heart disease. It can be found in biscuits, cakes and margarines.
Limit or Avoid Salty Food
– one of the causes of High Blood Pressure is salt. Too much salt can elevate your blood pressure which could lead to stroke and heart diseases. To limit your salt intake, take some alternatives to flavor your food. You can use some herbs and spices in cooking instead of salt. Avoid foods with too much salt such as corn or potato chips, processed meats, canned soups and sauces, soy sauce, instant/ready to cook food in packages and bottles. Check the labels when you do groceries and choose food with law amount of salt.
Drink Lots of Water
– unless your patient is with Chronic Kidney Disease and undergoing dialysis, you must incorporate at least 8 glasses or water to his/her diet every day. Water can help in flushing away toxins in our body. Keeping your patient hydrated is very important especially during summer. Dehydration can cause dizziness, tiredness, dry skin and lips and constipation which are very common in older adults.
Aside from healthy and nutritious food, it is also very important to include a moderate physical exercise every day. Walking is practically the best exercise for older adults for they cannot run or lift weight anymore. But to those who are already confined in bed, they will need help in every movement they make. But, this doesn’t mean they cannot have some physical activity. Moving their hands or legs can certainly help with their circulation and overall physical health.