With all the busyness in our lives, how many times do we grab a cup of coffee and a bagel 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 high metabolism, optimum muscle strength, and less chronic health issues can get away more easily with short-term poor eating habits; but not so for the elderly.
While our bodies go through changes in aging, the need for appropriate nutrition becomes much more critical. Seniors who are malnourished are at a greater risk for falls, anemia, maladies, hospitalizations, and more. It’s estimated that nationally, we spend over $150 billion yearly in medical costs stemming from elderly malnourishment.
There are quite a few senior food and nutrition challenges to overcome to be able to maintain ideal nutrition, such as:
- Medication side effects, such as impacting flavor and smell
- Trouble eating because of arthritis or dental problems
- Difficulty with the tasks involved with buying groceries or preparing meals
- Loneliness and depression, making mealtime less enjoyable
- Lack of interest to prepare nutritious meals when cooking for just one
- Financial constraints
To compound the issue further, medical appointments and check-ups often neglect nutritional guidance. Per 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 guarantee our senior loved ones are maintaining proper nutrition? The MyPlate for Older Adults from Tufts University is a good place to start, outlining simple dietary changes that are less inhibitive than trying a complete dietary 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 an expert in-home caregiver, such as those at Atlanta Home Care Partners, who can help with planning nutritious, delicious meals, running errands such as picking up groceries, and spending time with seniors during mealtimes to stave off loneliness.
For more tips for helping improve nourishment for an older adult, contact Atlanta Home Care Partners, trusted providers of private duty nursing Atlanta, GA families rely upon. We can plan and prepare healthy meals for older adults – and we’ll even clean up the kitchen afterwards!