Along with the busyness in life, how often do we grab a cup of coffee and a donut on our hurried way to work, stopping for fast food on the way home to avoid having to cook? Younger adults with a high metabolism, optimum muscle strength, and less chronic health problems can get away more easily with short-term poor eating habits; but the same is not so when it comes to elderly nutrition.
While our bodies change in aging, the need for appropriate nutrition becomes all the more critical. Seniors who are malnourished are at an elevated risk for falls, anemia, maladies, hospitalizations, and more. It’s estimated that nationally, we spend over $150 billion yearly in medical expenses stemming from elderly malnourishment.
There are multiple hurdles for the elderly to overcome in order to maintain ideal nutrition, such as:
- Medicine side effects, such as impacting taste and scent
- Difficulty eating because of arthritis or dental concerns
- Problems with the tasks involved with grocery shopping or fixing meals
- Isolation and depression, making mealtime less enjoyable
- Lack of motivation to prepare nutritious meals when cooking for just one
- Monetary limitations
To compound the issue further, doctors’ appointments and check-ups often overlook nutritional guidance. Per Simin Nikbin Meydani, director for 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 ensure our senior loved ones are maintaining proper nutrition? The MyPlate for Older Adults from Tufts University is a good starting point, outlining simple dietary modifications that are less inhibitive than trying 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 Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, who can assist 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 methods for helping improve elderly nutrition, contact Home Sweet Home In-Home Care in St. Joseph, MI. We can plan and prepare healthy meals for seniors – and we’ll even clean up the kitchen afterwards!