Proper nutrition is important at every age, but it’s especially important for older adults to maintain a healthy, nutrient-rich diet to prevent age-related illnesses and cognitive decline. However, some of the physical changes that older adults experience can negatively impact their dietary habits, and lead to an increased risk of health issues.
Physical Changes That Impact Senior’s Diets
Hearing Loss: Socialization is often part of our food experience. Losing the ability to have a conversation at dinnertime or at a restaurant can cause feelings of frustration and a loss of interest in eating.
Decreased Sense Of Smell: A decreased sense of smell can make eating a less satisfying experience and impact food choices. Seniors experiencing a reduced sense of smell may choose unhealthier foods or lose interest in eating.
Decreased Sense Of Taste: Tasting is an important part of eating, and weakened taste buds can make formerly beloved foods taste bitter or sour, or taste like nothing at all. The loss of taste has a huge impact on seniors’ dietary changes and weight loss.
Lower Energy Output: Physical activity and metabolic rates tend to decrease with age, which means that fewer calories are needed to sustain a healthy weight. This makes it especially important that seniors choose nutrient-rich foods, and avoid foods that are high in calories but low in nutrients.
Dental Issues: Poorly fitted dentures or tooth loss can make it difficult to eat hard and sticky foods. This can limit seniors’ food choices as they might avoid healthy foods that require a lot of chewing, like salads, apples, and nuts.
Gastrointestinal Changes: Changes in digestion, low stomach acid, constipation, and gastritis can cause some seniors to avoid fibre-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
To maintain good health, it’s important that seniors and their caregivers take the necessary precautions to prevent nutrient deficiency. This means ensuring that seniors consume foods that are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats. Maintaining a healthy diet will contribute to seniors’ overall physical and mental wellbeing, and help them avoid diet-related illnesses, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and weight problems. Consider adding these five nutrient-rich food groups to your shopping list:
Nutritious Foods Senior Should Consume
- Fruits And Vegetables: Choose vibrantly-coloured fruits and vegetables, like dark green, yellow, orange, and red. These bright colours mean they’re packed with healthy vitamins and antioxidants to protect your overall health. Include a rainbow of foods in your diet, like kale, spinach, berries, sweet potatoes, and oranges. If chewing foods is an issue, blend your fruits and vegetables into delicious, easy-to-drink smoothies.
- Dairy: Seniors are at a higher risk of bone loss, which means it’s important to incorporate calcium and vitamin D into your diet to support bone strength. Dairy is rich in both calcium and vitamin D, making it an easy way to increase your nutrient intake.
- Whole Grains: Whole grains, such as oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat, are a good source of essential B vitamins, fibre, and even protein. Replacing white bread and white rice with whole grain options is an easy way to add more vitamins and fibre into your diet.
- Lean Protein: Protein is an important component of maintain muscle mass as you age. If you eat meat, choose protein sources that are low in saturated fat, such as fish and poultry. You can also opt for vegetarian proteins, such as beans, legumes, nuts, and dairy products. It’s important to avoid meats high in unhealthy saturated fats, which can raise cholesterol levels.
- Omega Fatty Acids: Healthy fats are essential for overall health and can help lower bad cholesterol levels. Omega fatty acids can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, and oily fish. Try adding olive oil, nut butters, salmon, and tuna to your grocery list to increase your essential fatty acid intake.
Support Your Senior Loved One With iCare’s Premier Home Care Services
While good nutrition can greatly improve a senior’s quality of life, some older adults may need more assistance to ensure they maintain their wellbeing. In those cases, premier home care services can be helpful. A qualified at-home caregiver can provide convenient live-in care or regularly scheduled visits to help seniors maintain their health and independence for as long as possible. iCare Home Health offers premier home care in Mississauga, Burlington, and Oakville. Contact us to find out how iCare Home Health Care’s premier home care can support your loved one.