In the midst of our busy day-to-day lives, how many times do we grab a cup of coffee and a donut on our rush to work, stopping for fast food on the way home to avoid the extra task of having to cook? Younger adults with a high metabolism, optimum muscle strength, and fewer chronic health conditions can get away more easily with temporarily poor eating habits; however, this is not so for the elderly.
While our bodies go through changes in aging, the necessity for appropriate nutrition becomes all the more critical. Seniors who are malnourished are at a greater risk for falls, anemia, maladies, hospitalizations, and more. It’s estimated that as a nation, we spend over $150 billion yearly in medical costs stemming from elderly malnourishment.
There are numerous hurdles for the elderly to overcome in order to obtain adequate nutrition, including:
- Medication side effects, such as impacting flavor and scent
- Trouble eating due to arthritis or dental problems
- Problems with the tasks involved with buying groceries or fixing meals
- Loneliness and depression, making mealtime less enjoyable
- Lack of motivation to prepare healthy meals when cooking for one
- Monetary constraints
To make matters even more difficult, doctors’ appointments and checkups often overlook nutritional counseling. Per Simin Nikbin Meydani, director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Research Center on Aging at Tufts, “If you go to your physician, they will weigh you and check your heart, but they are not measuring your nutritional status.”
So how can we guarantee our senior loved ones are maintaining proper nutrition? The MyPlate for Older Adults from Tufts University is an excellent place to begin, outlining simple dietary changes that are less inhibitive than attempting a complete nutritional makeover. For example, “Tea and toast can turn into a bowl of oatmeal with a banana. It’s just as easy to make,” according to Shirley Chao, of the MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs.
Another choice is to engage the services of an expert in-home caregiver, such as those at Heaven at Home Senior Care of Denton, TX, who can help with planning nutritious, delicious meals, running errands such as picking up groceries, and spending time with seniors during mealtimes to stave off loneliness.
For more tips for helping improve nutrition for an older adult, contact Heaven at Home Senior Care. Not only can we plan and prepare healthy meals for seniors – we’ll even clean up the kitchen afterwards!