Nutrition and health are a passion of mine, so this blog post focuses on the importance of good diet amongst the elderly. This vulnerable group may need some extra care and dietary advice as they’re more susceptible to illnesses …
Many elderly people have an increased risk of malnutrition and dietary deficiencies, compared with other adult populations. Diet plays an important role in the health of our elderly population.
Worryingly, research suggests that malnutrition in persons over the age of 65 could be as high as 35%. So a diet that is rich in essential nutrients is vital.
Several factors can affect the diets of this group. These may include; poor appetite, dementia, the inability to prepare meals, limited access to shops, a small budget for food and/or the use of medications which may impact their appetite.
The hints and tips below may help:
Prioritising meal times
Prioritising meal times each day is vital and will help ensure that our older population eat well. If you care for an elderly friend, relative or client, then encouraging them to take the time to sit down and eat a nutritious meal is especially important. Helping them prepare a meal at home, or taking them out for their lunch would help to make sure that they are eating frequently.
Small, frequent meals
As many elderly persons’ have a small appetite, offering small, nutritionally dense meals is important. A range of foods, which are high in calories and nutrients should be offered, whenever possible.
These meals should include; a source of protein, which is needed for muscle and skin repair. Protein is also important as it aids healing in people who are sick, or post-surgery. Meat, fish, eggs, milk, soy products and beans are all sources of protein.
Healthy fats, which include; nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocado and olive oil are important as they supply your body with energy and are high in calories. These ‘healthy fats’ can also help to reduce the risk of developing blood clots.
Carbohydrates are important to the elderly, as they provide the fuel needed to keep their bodies functioning properly. Potatoes, bread, whole grains, fruit and vegetables are all good sources of carbohydrates….other examples include cakes, chocolate and biscuits, which although not considered ‘healthy’ should be encouraged in moderation, especially if weight gain is needed.
Vegetables and fruit are an important source of fibre, which is needed to keep bowels healthy and to help prevent high blood pressure. Frozen or canned may be the only option for many elderly people and both of these are a great alternative to fresh varieties. Just make sure that they’re not packaged in syrup or contain too much salt.
Drink, drink, drink!
Fluids are especially important, many elderly folk do not drink enough, which can be a frequent cause of hospital admissions. Dehydration can cause fatigue and confusion, so it is vital that fluid intake is encouraged (unless advised otherwise).
Water, fruit tea, milky drinks and fruit juice can all be included as part of someone’s fluid intake.
If your elderly client, friend, neighbour or family member has a poor appetite, then remember, it is perfectly acceptable for them to snack between meals, to help maintain their weight and energy levels.
“A glass of milk, cheese and crackers, nuts, toast, yogurt and cereals are all excellent choices!”
I hope that you have found this useful and that it will help keep our elderly population healthy, happy and well-nourished.
Until next time …
PS: Why not visit www.extra-help.co.uk and find out more?