Aging adults really need to take nutrition seriously, because their bodies need as much help as possible to resist illness, disease, injury and the effects of age.
As they struggle to remain healthy and nourished, there are many obstacles that they face in planning and preparing meals. Not only is good nutrition important for normal body functions, but it is also essential in managing many age-related conditions that seniors face, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Family caregivers are usually on hand to help with some shopping and meals, but it’s very difficult for them to remain on top of it day in and day-out. There are simply too many other responsibilities they must deal with, and it’s too easy for the aging adult to skip meals or settle for less than healthy fare. There are 5 main reasons why elderly adults fail to consistently get nutritious meals.
1. Make Lifestyle Changes that Trigger Hunger
Many seniors don’t eat healthy meals because they don’t have an appetite. With age, the triggers that signal hunger are often muted, making it so that elderly adults simply aren’t hungry or don’t care about eating. Family caregivers can encourage exercise and activity to build up their aging relative’s appetite. Reducing snacks between meals can also help.
2. Prepare Ready-to-Eat Meals
Sometimes the obstacle for seniors in eating healthy meals is that they simply cannot prepare them alone. Perhaps it’s an elderly person who never really learned to cook or a senior whose arthritic hands cannot open cans, stir ingredients or lift things out of the oven. Family caregivers can prepare ready-to-eat meals that simply need warmed up or assembled. That way, the aging relative has fresh and healthy meals on hand and just needs to do the final step.
3. Hire a Home Care Provider
To reduce the stress over the planning and preparing of meals, hire a home care provider. These professionally trained and experienced assistants can do a lot for seniors in their home. One of the services they provide is meal planning and preparation. They go to the grocery store, put food away, prepare meals and serve healthy snacks. Seniors are sure to get all the nutrients they need when a home care provider is managing mealtime.
4. Make Meals a Social Event
Loneliness, isolation, depression, and anxiety all contribute to poor showings at mealtimes. When seniors are not motivated to eat, they indulge in non-nutritious food choices and even skip meals altogether. Eating with others makes meals a social event and sparks engagement and inclusion. Whether elderly adults dine with their home care provider, family members or friends, a shared meal boosts the appetite.
5. Ensure Nutritious Snacks are Accessible
Snacks are important for seniors, especially those dealing with conditions like diabetes. However, it’s easy to turn to unhealthy chips and sweets instead of fresh fruit, vegetables, and dip, and whole grain baked goods. When nutritious snacks are around, the elderly adult will create good and healthy food habits.