The prevalence of processed and fast food makes it difficult for most Americans to keep healthy. Despite our best intentions, 90% of us don’t get all the nutrients we need. Unfortunately, this becomes more apparent as we age. Seniors face many nutrition issues that doctors and caregivers aren’t fully aware of and don’t know how to approach properly. Today, we’ll highlight some of the common nutritional issues seniors deal with and how you can help combat them.
Most seniors live on fixed incomes, whether from Social Security or other sources. Some senior citizens receive as little as a few hundred dollars a month and must make difficult if not impossible choices on how to spend that money. They may end up choosing between food and medication. When less money is allocated for food, seniors’ options dwindle. They may become dependent on fast food or frozen dinners that while marketed as healthy, contain several chemicals or replace fats and complex carbs with simple sugars.
Caregivers should stay in close touch with healthcare providers to assess their loved ones’ nutritional needs and access all possible government resources.
Over-Salting or Over-Spicing Food
As they age, seniors’ taste buds become less sensitive. Former favorite foods may seem bland. Like the rest of us, seniors often try to remedy this with more salt, pepper, and other spices. This increases sodium levels, which can lead to dangerous health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, and seizures. Seniors with too much spice and sodium in their diets often become dehydrated.
Caregivers should work to enhance foods’ natural aromas and flavors without spices. Look for fresh ingredients, such as mild herbs and flavorful vegetables. Prepare foods in diverse ways – roast potatoes, asparagus, or broccoli instead of boiling.
Loneliness and Depression
Many seniors experience depression as a side effect of medication, but whether they’re on medication or not, seniors often feel lonely. This is partially due to fixed income – limited funds mean seniors can drive fewer places and enjoy fewer activities. Seniors can have a difficult time getting around, further limiting their social circles and activities. Because fast food and sweets activate pleasure centers in the brain, seniors may turn to them to feel better.
Families and caregivers should make meals social. If your senior lives with your family, make sure everyone sits at the table together a few nights a week. Offer to drive your loved one so he or she can meet friends for dinner. Retirement homes can host small group meals or weekly themed dinners.
For additional information, please be sure to contact us at Preferred Home Health Care.