Eating a healthy diet is essential for people of every age, especially for older adults. Elderly adults must make an extra effort to choose nutrient-dense foods and avoid empty-calorie snacks. Elderly people are also at risk for nutrient deficiencies and they are to ensure they have an adequate intake of all vitamins and minerals. Practicing good wellbeing, nutrition and safety helps you enjoy your senior years.
However, there are several reasons that prevent elderly adults from eating a healthy diet e.g. a sensitive stomach, reduced appetite due to stress or medication, dental problems, physical ailments such as arthritis, too dependent on others, etc. It is very important for us to understand these problems and to encourage the elderly adults in our lives to eat healthily.
- High in Fiber, Calcium and Vitamin D - Needs for these nutrients increases
as you age. Fibre helps lower cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of diabetes
(a risk factor for heart disease) and certain types of cancer. Calcium helps
strengthening bone and teeth. Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Vitamin
D helps the body to absorb the calcium better.
- Reduce the 3S (Sugar, Salt, Sodium) - Use natural seasonings such as onions,
garlic, parsley; coriander to spice up meals. When eating out, ask for less
salt, sugar, sauce and gravy. Incorporate fruits and vegetables in their diet
as much as possible.
- Fluid to Hydrate - Encourage your elderly parent to drink more fluid. Place
drinks in attractive glasses or water pitchers and schedule fluid intake between
meals. Serve different types of fluid e.g fruit juice, tomato juice or milk.
- Be Creative - Some elderly adults might refuse to eat certain food. Try
making them smoothies with low fat milk with wheat germ or soya milk with
oats or mixed fruits. This is to ensure that they consume important nutrients.
- Eat together - It is important to eat meals with your elderly parents and
eat the same foods as them. Eating together strengthens bonds and increases
togetherness for the family. It also may teach your children certain values
they are able to practise in later life.
- Use the Omega 3 - They can be found in many different types of fishes (especially the oily kind like salmon, tuna) flaxseeds and chia seeds. These foods may help reduce inflammation which can cause cancer, arthritis and heart disease. These are best taken at least twice a week.