Dietary requirements change as we age. The bodies of the elderly absorb nutrients differently. And metabolism slows. That means that people over sixty-five may need to make some changes to their diets, even if their diets are quite healthy.
Older adults need fewer calories
Unless a senior is quite athletic, chances are good he or she no longer needs 2500 calories a day. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), sedentary women need no more than 1600 calories a day. A moderately active woman can afford to consume 1800 calories, and a very active woman 2000.
Men who get little exercise need only 2000 calories a day, 2200 if they are moderately active, and still only 2400 if they are very active.
Seniors can cut back their calorie consumption through mindfulness, smaller portions, and swapping out high-calorie foods for lower calorie, nutrient density foods.
What are the high-density foods elder care specialists recommend?
Geriatric specialists recommend a number of food swaps for the elderly including:
- Swapping tortilla and potato chips for raw carrots.
- Swapping butter for vegetable oil.
- Swapping jams and fig cookies for fresh, raw fruit.
- Swapping white bread for whole grain bread.
- Swapping cookies for unsalted and unsweetened almonds.
Changing beverages can also reduce calories and boost nutrition. One of the healthiest habits a senior can develop is to drink water instead of soda or beer. Two percent milk in coffee and tea rather than whole milk or cream is also a healthy habit to develop. And the NIA recommends substituting sparkling water flavored with natural fruit juice for sweet tea.
You may or may not feel comfortable telling your parents what to eat. But you can certainly suggest good eating habits by making sure mom or dad’s cabinets and refrigerator are stocked with the right foods. Elder care aides, who visit your parent in his or her home, can also help you make sure that the right foods are available.
Changing nutrient requirements
Many seniors will also need to increase their intake of certain nutrients. As we age, many people will need higher quantities of calcium and Vitamin D to preserve healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis. Low-fat and skim milk is a good way to get these nutrients. However, some seniors will need to take dietary supplements to get their right amounts of these nutrients.
Seniors who find that they are frequently constipated will need to increase their fiber intake. This generally involves eating more greens, raw vegetables, nuts, and whole grain cereals. If upping the intake of these foods doesn’t produce the needed results, a senior may need chewable fiber supplements.
Many seniors also need greater amounts of Vitamin B12 because the aging body absorbs it less effectively. Good sources of this nutrient are fish, especially clams, chicken, turkey, milk, and eggs. Vitamin B12 is essential to healthy blood cells and nervous systems, so it’s important not to be deficient.
In conclusion, every age is a good age to eat well, push vegetables and lean proteins, and reduce saturated fats. But, for the elderly, it’s critical to maintain a healthy weight and make sure to get the right nutrients. In many cases, this can be accomplished through a few dietary changes to which your mother or father may not be too resistant. Home care can also encourage healthy eating by suggesting dishes that incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering Elder Care in Frederick, MD please contact the caring staff at Just Divine Home Care Agency today at (301) 219-1585.