Along with the busyness in life, how often do we grab a cup of coffee and a donut on our harried way to work, stopping for junk food on the way home to avoid the extra task of having to cook? Younger adults with a higher metabolism, optimal muscle strength, and fewer chronic health conditions can get away more easily with short-term poor eating habits; however, this is not so for the elderly.
While our bodies go through changes in aging, the necessity for proper senior nutrition becomes even more critical. Seniors who are malnourished are at a heightened risk for falls, anemia, illnesses, hospitalizations, and much more. It’s estimated that as a nation, we spend over $150 billion yearly in medical costs stemming from elderly malnourishment.
There are multiple hurdles for the elderly to overcome to be able to obtain adequate nutrition, such as:
- Medicine side effects, such as impacting taste and smell
- Trouble eating because of arthritis or dental concerns
- Problems with the tasks required with shopping or preparing meals
- Loneliness and depression, making mealtime less pleasurable
- Lack of enthusiasm to prepare healthy meals when cooking for one
- Financial constraints
To compound the issue further, healthcare appointments and check-ups often neglect nutritional counseling. According to Simin Nikbin Meydani, director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Research Center on Aging at Tufts, “If you go to your physician, they will weigh you and check your heart, but they are not measuring your nutritional status.”
So how can we make sure our senior loved ones are maintaining proper nutrition? The MyPlate for Older Adults from Tufts University is an excellent place to begin, outlining simple dietary modifications that are less inhibitive than attempting a complete nutritional makeover. For example, “Tea and toast can turn into a bowl of oatmeal with a banana. It’s just as easy to make,” according to Shirley Chao, of the MA Executive Office of Elder Affairs.
Another choice is to engage the services of a professional in-home caregiver, such as those at North River Home Care, who can help with planning wholesome, delicious meals, running errands such as picking up groceries, and spending time with seniors during mealtimes to stave off loneliness.
For more strategies for helping improve senior nutrition, contact North River Home Care of Sandwich, MA. We can plan and prepare healthy meals for older adults – and we’ll even clean up the kitchen afterwards!