While good nutrition matters in all phases of life, as people age, they experience increased physical vulnerabilities, and the proper diet helps safeguard and minimize complications that can be a part of the aging process. It’s not always easy to manage good nutrition, but the benefits can be significant.
The Basics of Good Nutrition for Aging Adults
Nutrition concerns the consumption of food and drink that provide the body energy and protection from poor health. The goal of good nutrition is to have the proper diet as well as a lifestyle that encourages the absorption of nutrients. The NIH (National Institutes of Health) lists some key nutrition considerations for older adults, which include:
- Eating foods high in nutrients
- Avoid empty calories like junk food, soda, and alcohol.
- Pick foods that are low in cholesterol and fat.
- Drink plenty of hydrating liquids
- Be physically active.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also recommends emphasizing lean proteins and vitamins B12 and D as important parts of a good diet.
Challenges in Getting the Proper Nutrition
As people age, they experience a variety of physical and environmental changes that can impact good nutrition. For example, some medications can impact appetite and taste sensations, reducing interest and enjoyment of food. In addition, older adults experience isolation, and it is harder for them to motivate to prepare meals for themselves. Health challenges, both physical and cognitive, make meal preparation more difficult as well. In other words, just when good nutrition is particularly important, it is all the harder to do.
Strategies to Practice for Good Nutrition
Knowing that good nutrition is important may not be enough to make it happen. Rather than maintain poor nutritional habits, here are some practical steps to help:
- Make a shopping list. Avoid impulse shopping, and plan healthy foods to buy in advance.
- Find easy recipes. If cooking and cleaning up are hard, research quick, simple recipes.
- Healthy snacking. Instead of big meals, have nutritious snacks throughout the day.
- Flavored water. Lemon, lime, cucumber, and mint are a few additions that can make staying hydrated a more pleasurable experience.
- Supplements. After checking with a physician, consider getting important nutrients with supplements.
For some older adults, good nutrition may not be possible without some help. Home care for people with dementia or significant physical infirmities may be the solution to maintaining a healthy diet. Shopping, meal planning and meal preparation can be arranged to help with nutrition.
CarePlus Home Health provides home care nursing in Montgomery County, which allows aging adults to continue to live safely and comfortably in their own homes. Our services include assistance with shopping and meal preparation, and our staff can help devise an appropriate nutrition plan for our clients to make sure they are getting what they need to stay healthy. Contact us today for more information about our home care services.