Good nutrition is important at every age, and senior citizens need a well-balanced diet. A good selection of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean protein sources are necessary for senior health maintenance. If you have a senior member in your family, encourage him or her to adopt a healthy diet, and assist with preparation of some meals to make it easier.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Inflammation contributes to heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. It’s important to include omega 3 fatty acids in the diets of seniors at least twice a week to reduce inflammation and improve overall health. Salmon and tuna are good sources, as is flaxseed and its oil. You can also get this beneficial nutrient in supplement form.
Vitamin D and Calcium
As people get older, they need more calcium and vitamin D. Both of these nutrients aid in preserving bone health. Osteoporosis is prevalent in seniors and the need for increasing calcium intake is vitally important. Calcium is also an aid in lowering blood pressure. Sunshine is a great source of vitamin D, and milk and cheese are good sources of calcium. Because many seniors have a small appetite, check with the doctor to see if a calcium supplement is appropriate.
Seniors don’t normally drink as much water as they should, but the body still needs as much fluid to function properly. Encourage your senior to drink often. Offer them a nice cool drink of water or iced tea. Explain how the body still needs water even if he or she doesn’t feel thirsty. Sometimes if a senior is experiencing an incontinence issue, they purposely avoid drinking very much. You will have to convince him or her of the importance of good hydration. The easiest way to check hydration is to look at the senior’s urine. If the urine is clear he or she is properly hydrated, but if it is dark they need more liquids.
According to Aging Care, seniors should not eat alone. Eating is a social activity and eating with family around the table encourages good appetite. Good conversations and a laugh or two improves a senior’s emotions and he or she will eat better. It’s easier to change or adjust your senior’s nutritional needs if the whole family is eating the same way. If no one is home for midday meals, be sure you have prepared the meal for your senior and call them on the phone for a chat while you both eat. It will be encouraging for him or her and you will enjoy it too.
Be sure to keep dental appointments with your senior. Good oral health is an important part of nutrition. If he or she has dentures and finds it difficult to eat some fruits raw, make delicious smoothies for the whole family. You can serve them as a between meal treat or as a dessert.
With a little creativity and effort, you can help your senior stay healthy with good nutrition.