The Senior Nutrition In-Service presented by our RN Supervisor was fun and informative. We learned how nutrition is the foundation of healthy living, no matter your age. We also learned how caregivers can help their clients or loved ones make nutritious choices to support a healthy lifestyle.
One of the biggest nutritional issues seniors face is dehydration. As we age, our “thirst” sensation decreases. If we aren’t thirsty as often it is easy to forget to drink enough water. It is recommended that seniors drink the equivalent of four 16 ounce water bottles each day. It’s ok to use flavoring as long as it’s not full of unwanted sugar. If you aren’t at that level, start to slowly increase your intake. Staying hydrated helps your heart work more efficiently, staves off UTIs, helps your gastrointestinal tract run smoothly, and keeps your whole body operating at its best.
Many of us grew up with the food pyramid. Did you know that the USDA created a new healthy eating model called My Plate? It is a simpler version of the old food pyramid to help Americans of all ages eat well-balanced meals. Some important highlights of nutritious eating for seniors are:
- Increase the amount of vegetables you eat to increase the amount of fiber in your diet. You can add veggies to a scrambled egg, add vegetables to a sandwich, eat a side salad instead of chips, or use hummus as a dipping sauce.
- Eat protein at every meal to aid in healing and to support muscle health.
- Use healthy oils such as olive oil or avocado oil. Stay away from seed oils and margarine as they are proven to cause inflammation.
- Use convenience foods to your advantage. Tuna and chicken pouches, rice cups, frozen fruits and vegetables are all convenient ways to get the vitamins and nutrients you need as part of a healthy diet.
- Stay away from sugary drinks like juices, soda, or sweetened iced tea
- Plan meals ahead or use leftovers
Changing your own eating habits or the ones of someone you care for can be a daunting task. Remember, small incremental changes can make a big difference in the life of a senior. If a senior you love is having trouble eating a balanced diet it may be a signal that they could use some extra help in their home and that home care may be the right fit for them. There are also other resources available to help. Please call our office at 919-847-5622 with any questions.