Signs of Poor Nutrition in Seniors
Seniors must be mindful of what they eat to maintain their health. Eating a balanced and healthy diet is important at any age, but it’s especially crucial for seniors. A nutritious diet can help seniors stay strong, mobile, and independent as they age.
There are many benefits of eating healthy for seniors. Eating well can help keep seniors’ bones and muscles healthy, which is important for preventing injuries and falls. A healthy diet can also help keep seniors’ minds sharp by providing essential nutrients for cognitive function. Additionally, a good diet can boost seniors’ immune systems, making them less likely to get sick.
There are many simple ways to ensure your elderly loved one eats a nutritious diet. Make sure they are eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Try to avoid processed foods and sugary drinks. Encourage your loved one to exercise regularly, which can also help improve their health and well-being.
If you’re concerned that your elderly loved one is not getting the nutrition they need, talk to their doctor or a nutritionist about creating a tailored meal plan. Following a healthy diet is important to stay healthy as you age, and keeping your loved one on the right track is crucial.
If you are the caregiver for a senior parent or other elderly loved one, a primary focus must be on the recipient of your assistance in maintaining a proper diet. With this in mind, caregivers for seniors must understand and appreciate the signs of poor nutrition in elderly women and men.
Basic Signs of Poor Nutrition in Seniors
Nutritional deficiencies typically can be resolved with appropriate dietary changes and adjustments. If you suspect any nutritional deficiency in a senior you are assisting or providing caregiver services, you should follow up with his or her doctor. With that in mind, these are some common signs that may indicate a senior loved one has some nutritional deficiency:
- Brittle or dry hair
- Increased hair loss
- Mouth issues that include cracking or inflammation at the corners of the mouth as well as a pale, smooth, or a swollen tongue
- Nails becoming dry and brittle, developing ridges, or taking on a spoon-like shape where they come off the nail bed
- Poor digestion
- Sudden or unexpected changes like constipation or diarrhea
- Unexplained fatigue, especially if no sleep issues previously have been present
- Unexplained mood changes
- Irritability or general moodiness
- Unexplained weight loss
Basic Eating or Dining Tips for Seniors
At the outset, weight loss is a common issue for many seniors. Therefore, it may become necessary for a senior loved one to eat every two or three hours, eat larger portions when your appetite is strongest, incorporate healthy fats into your diet, make healthy smoothies for snacks, and have a healthy bedtime snack.
- Plan a senior’s meals and snacks in advance. A senior is more likely to eat healthy, nutritious food if a meal plan is in place. Meals can be planned on a daily or weekly basis.
- A senior should eat when hungry. A senior should not be force-fed (unless there is some true medical necessity and a doctor has directed this to occur). Snacking and eating when a senior is not hungry often leads to weight gain and other health issues.
- A senior should eat slowly and chew bites well. Eating slowly gives a senior’s brain and stomach time to communicate to indicate when he or she is full. Careful chewing results in easier digestion.
- A senior needs to avoid foods that are high in unhealthy fats. Consuming too many high-fat foods can lead to heart disease and obesity in older people (actually, in all adults).
- Replace desserts with low-fat yogurt and fresh fruit. Try baked apples and pears sprinkled with cinnamon.
- Have a variety of healthy snacks for a senior you are providing caregiving assistance.
Grocery Shopping Tips
There are some crucial grocery shopping tips to keep in mind when purchasing food for seniors. Having a solid, comprehensive grocery shopping strategy in place makes it much easier to bring home the healthiest foods for a senior you are assisting. Tips for grocery shopping for seniors include:
- Make a grocery list in advance.
- Check for coupons and sales. Saving money is important for people in their Golden Years.
- Find out if your grocery store has senior discount days. Shopping on certain days might save money.
- If a senior has mobility challenges but wants to participate in grocery shopping, select a store that offers motorized carts for seniors. In the alternative, pick a store with large aisles and helpful staff.
- Consider a grocery delivery service. You might be able to skip the store altogether when it comes to shopping for a senior you provide caregiving assistance.
- Plan to shop when the grocery store is slower than normal. Weekday mornings are usually a good time to go.
- Don’t purchase too many perishable items. Just buy what you think a senior will eat over the next few days.
- Choose store or generic brands over name brands since they usually cost less.
Motivational Tips to Keep a Senior’s Diet on Tract
There are some tips to keep in mind to motivate a senior to keep on track regarding maintaining a healthy diet. Examples of strategies that you can consider employing to help keep a senior on the course when it comes to healthy eating include:
- Keep recipes simple
- Cook larger meals and then freeze individual portions that can quickly be reheated
- Find healthy frozen meals at the grocery store
- Buy prepared fresh salads and vegetables
- Use a meal-delivery service in your area
- Make the dining area comfortable and pleasing to the eye
- Eat outside when the weather permits
- Turn on the TV or radio, or read a book or magazine while you eat
- Go out to eat occasionally
- Joining a seniors’ dining club or signing up for a weekly meal program at a local seniors’ center
As a caregiver for a senior, by following the recommendations in this article, you will be in a better position to ensure that a proper diet is followed. You will be able to ensure better that your senior loved one has a diet that enhances his or her wellness and well-being.