Whether you’re looking for home care in Potomac, including Bethesda, Olney or Silver Spring, or in Fairfax County VA, including McLean or Reston, nutrition for your loved ones should be top of mind. Our caregivers will try to work nutritious meals and snacks into every day – depending on what is available around the house. Here are a few ideas on how to keep focused on nutrition for seniors.
We all know the importance of healthy eating, but for older adults, proper nutrition takes on a whole new meaning. Nutritional needs change as a person ages and additional sources of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber are needed to maintain optimal health. However, eating nutrient-rich meals and practicing healthy habits can often be a daunting task for seniors.
For many, it’s not a matter of eating too much, but not getting enough. Older adults can lose their appetites for many reasons, such as a medical condition or taking certain medications that interfere with digestion or absorption of certain nutrients. This can quickly lead to malnutrition. Other contributing factors include:
- Decreased sense of taste or smell
- Loss of strength and mobility
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Mental and emotional factors, such as depression, dementia and social isolation
Fortunately, there are many practical ways to help seniors boost their nutritional intake. The following 5 tips can be incorporated into everyday life to maintain a healthy, balanced diet:
- Serve several small meals and snacks: For seniors with a smaller appetite, large meals can be overwhelming. Smaller, more frequent meals can be easier to manage.
- Make meals and snacks nutrient-rich: For example, instead of mashed potatoes, try mashed sweet potatoes. Or serve pasta with a lycopene-rich tomato sauce, rather than butter or cream sauces. Add a variety of vegetables and lean protein to low-salt broth for an easy soup.
- Use herbs and spices in dishes: Many seniors have a diminished sense of smell and taste, so cooking with garlic and onion powder, salt-free seasoning blends and herbs such as basil and oregano make foods more flavorful and appealing. Try to minimize the use of table salt.
- Add extra calories without adding lots of extra food: For those with smaller appetites, try adding extra sauces or grated, calcium-rich cheese to entrees. You can also sprinkle wheat germ into cereals or add it to baked goods for extra fiber. Or drizzle some olive oil or add mashed avocado on top of dishes for a dose of healthy fat.
- Make meal planning a routine: Rather than reaching for a can of soup out of convenience, work with your loved one to plan well-balanced, simple-to-prepare meals for each day and draft a shopping list. You can also help prepare a week’s worth of dinners and then freeze them until needed. Or you may also want to look into a meal-delivery service.
For seniors, it’s more crucial than ever to stay healthy by maintaining a clean, nutrient-rich diet. If your loved one is having difficulty maintaining proper nutrition and preparing meals on their own, Assisting Hands can help. We offer help with grocery shopping, as well as food preparation and clean up to ensure your loved one is receiving healthy, well-balanced meals. We also make sure that meals are compliant with any special dietary needs. Our services are available throughout Montgomery County, MD and Northern VA, including Fairfax County. Call us in Potomac at (301) 363-2580 or in Virginia at 703-556-8983. We look forward to working with you.