Eldercare Nutrition is a Big Part of Being a Caregiver

Grocery shopping and meal preparation are as important when caring for a senior retiree as it is for a growing child. We all do better when we are well-nourished. Eldercare nutrition means a heart and brain healthy diet. Eldercare nutrition-aide serving lunch to seniorHeart and brain issues often show up later in life. Illness, pain, loneliness or depression can cause poor nutrition. Our health, energy, and well-being are tied to good nutrition from the foods we eat.

Nutrition Challenges for Older Adults

A basic truth of eldercare nutrition is; our digestive system slows with age.  Our digestive enzymes are secreted less. These enzymes in our gut break down and digest various nutrients. So our bodies may not be absorbing all the ingredients it needs. Vitamins and supplements (calcium, vitamin D) may be necessary. We recommend you speak to a nutritionist or dietician, who works with seniors to help build a healthy diet. Eldercare nutrition means learning how much is enough to eat.  If you suspect your loved has abdominal pain, constipation or fatigue, a visit to their doctor can help diagnose and treat the problem.

With aging, we become less able to absorb and retain water. This leads to avoidable episodes of dehydration. Here in South Florida, it’s easy to become dehydrated, so we must drink frequently.  Keep a drink nearby and when going out. Water is best but the idea is to stay hydrated so try putting berries, orange or lemon slices in the water to give it flavor – without added sugar. Additional hydration can be gotten by eating vegetables and fruits. Cucumbers and watermelon are great ways to add hydration to your elder’s day.

Older Adults May Eat Less

When grocery shopping and cooking become difficult, they may eat less. Or they will eat unhealthy foods like frozen or canned meals. These foods contain huge amounts of salt. Some older adults experience a decreased appetite. This may be a side effect of their medications. If you cannot shop and cook for the senior in your life, consider hiring an aide. They will do the laundry and tidy up too. Consider using healthy meal delivery services or have groceries delivered directly to the home. Three balanced meals are still recommended but many people may prefer smaller meals five or six times throughout the day/evening. Their appetite can be affected by mood, illness, and medications so it is important to make meals appealing and in a comfortable setting.

Eldercare and Any Age Nutrition Challenges

Let’s face it; we live in pressured times when we are overloaded with tasks and responsibilities. It is hard to eat properly when working and caring for others. Eating healthier requires some commitment but can quickly become routine. The easiest way to make a positive nutrition change is what we put in our grocery carts. If we bring more vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, spices, and fish into our kitchen we will eat more of those things.  Planning is important when trying to eat better. Try making a big bowl of something which can be used several times during the week.

You can eat healthier by eliminating or decreasing unhealthy foods – fried, sugar, salt, processed and red meats. You can add more of veggies – try a new vegetable like spaghetti squash, more fruits, nuts, legumes and plant-based foods.