A poorly-balanced diet can lead to some serious health issues, even if you’re only getting older. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to nutrition as you get older, but doing so can be challenging, especially if your ability to make smart decisions declines with age or if you need assistance with day-to-day activities like cooking and grocery shopping. Fortunately, you can take several easy steps to make sure your diet stays healthy even as you grow older. Here are some top tips on how to improve nutrition in the elderly.
Plan Meals Under Expert Guidance
If you have an aging family member living with you, make sure to ask them about their favorite meals. Not only will they enjoy eating a meal prepared especially for them, but also it will help ensure they are getting a balanced diet. Even if you are struggling with improving nutrition in your elderly loved ones, you can make sure they’re getting what they need by planning meals under expert guidance. A consultation with a dietitian or registered dietician will ensure a personalized nutrition plan based on medical conditions, food preferences, and schedule. Your loved one can gain from regular visits from a nutritional counselor as well as helpful home-delivered services that come with recipes, shopping lists, and even weekly meal planning. You can rely on these professionals to advise how to improve nutrition in your loved one because they have helped thousands of people address all kinds of health concerns. If you want to improve nutrition in your aging loved one, ask for help right away. Time is of the essence.
Make Soft and Colorful Food
Younger people tend to like their food as firm as possible. But older people, who might already be suffering from vision and chewing problems, generally prefer softer and more colorful foods: You can play up the food’s texture and color by cooking more often with broth (to soften meats), fruits (to sweeten dishes), cinnamon (to sweeten coffees) or sauces. Colorful foods are also good choices because they are easier for aging eyes to see.
Serve Small and Frequent Meals
One of the most significant factors in healthy eating is encouraging older adults to make time for small, frequent meals. Eating larger meals or infrequent (think once-daily) meals put more stress on their digestive system, making it harder to digest foods properly and absorb all nutrients. As people age, their bodies naturally lose some enzymes, particularly when it comes to protein digestion. Meals that are too large or infrequent can mean that protein isn’t broken down properly into its individual amino acids—meaning they don’t get optimal nutrition from the food. Focus instead on eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day so that they are getting lots of little bites.
Make Meal-Time Enjoyable
Making meal-time enjoyable for the elderly is essential. As you age, your sense of smell diminishes, and food doesn’t taste as it once did. That makes eating less enjoyable. It is crucial to spice up mealtime by using healthy seasonings that can be incorporated into recipes.
Take Advantage of Services
Be sure to take advantage of services available to your elderly loved ones, such as nutrition services. Visiting doctors should recommend good options in your area; if not, call your local senior centers for more information.