We’ve all noticed that some people seem to age well and maintain a high level of mental agility, physical energy and a remarkable positive attitude. Even if you have never paid much attention to your eating habits in the past, this stage of life demands an improved diet. As a senior citizen you should know that eating healthy can help you stay in good physical shape, enhance your mental alertness, enable you to feel better and enhance your chances of living a longer life by reducing the risk of disease.
The rules for eating well as a senior citizen are roughly the same as for any adult, with some important differences. A trained in-home caregiver can help keep your aging loved one on track with a healthy diet.
Changes that Can Affect Diet
Seniors often have a slower metabolism and a less efficient digestive system. Many seniors suffer from health conditions and take medications that have an impact on appetite. For these reasons, some older people tend to use more salt and choose sugary foods. The body’s decreasing ability to produce stomach acid and saliva can make it hard to process minerals and vitamins.
Inadequate processing of Vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid can interfere with circulation and mental ability. In some cases, the doctor may prescribe vitamin supplements, and a balanced diet with increased fiber can help. Many seniors find themselves alone at mealtimes, and they may not eat as they should. Others may have trouble chewing their food, or they may experience a loss of appetite due to medications. Spicing up meals can help.
Reduce Sugar and Carb Intake
Unfortunately, the sense of smell and taste decrease as the years go by. However, the body’s ability to recognize sweets lingers long after other flavors are indistinguishable. Sugar and refined carbohydrates in foods like white flour and white rice cause a spike in your blood sugar level, precipitating a downward swing that leads to hunger. To help maintain a steady blood sugar level, go easy on sugar that can be found in unexpected places such as pasta sauce and soup in the can.
The best idea is to reduce dietary sugar gradually to give yourself time to reduce cravings. Check the label, or better still use fresh ingredients. Frozen foods are preferable as well. Eating naturally sweet food to your meals such as peppers, fruit and yams can help. Reach for complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, oatmeal and beans. Beware of lowfat food that replaces healthy fats with sugar or artificial flavoring to enhance the taste.
Get Fit with Fiber
It is a good idea to help boost your digestive system with an adequate amount of fiber. For men over the age of 50, that means 30 grams per day at the minimum. For women, 21 grams should be enough. However, many aging seniors are eating less than half of the recommended amount of fiber per day.
Add fiber by starting the day with whole grain cereal that is high in fiber and low in sugar. Skip the fruit juice and eat whole fruit instead. For lunch, a salad with added beans, nuts and seeds can add fiber to your diet, and eat vegetables with meals at any time of the day for a snack.
Enlisting the Help of a Caregiver
A trained in-home caregiver from a reputable home health care agency can help an aging senior maintain a healthy diet. The caregiver can shop for fresh ingredients, prepare meals and clean up afterward. In addition, a caregiver can provide transportation for doctor’s appointments and testing, pick up pain prescriptions and remind the senior to take the medication regularly. A caregiver can also help with personal hygiene and meal preparation.
Home Helpers of South Shore is owned and operated by a compassionate health professional with a strong understanding of the needs of aging seniors. Contact Home Helpers to help your aging loved one.
Please fill out the form on the left and we will get in touch with you about setting up in-home health care, or call us at 781-585-1244 to determine the plan that is right for you.
We serve the following communities:
Abington , Braintree , Brockton , Buzzards Bay , Carver , Cohasset, Dighton , Duxbury , Falmouth , Halifax , Hanson , Hingham , Holbrook , Hull , Humarock , Kingston , Lakeville , Marshfield , Mashpee , Middleboro , Norwell , Pembroke , Plymouth , Plympton , Quincy , Randolph , Rockland , Sandwich , Scituate , Taunton , Wareham , Weymouth , Whitman