Eating a healthy and balanced diet is an essential part taking care of yourself. People of all ages need to consume the right balance of nutrients, but older people may have unique issues getting the healthy diet that they need.
Aside from maintaining a healthy weight, eating the right foods helps prevent certain diseases, such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. A healthy diet also helps your body function properly and gives you energy.
What Factors Affect the Nutrition of Older Adults?
Why is it important for seniors to eat healthily? Nutrients are the substances found in food. These include proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. As you get older, your metabolism slows down, so you need fewer calories. Therefore, it’s essential to get as much nutrition out of those fewer calories as possible.
Besides a decrease in calorie consumption, other reasons older adults may have trouble getting the nutrients they need include:
- Medications may change their sense of taste and smell, making food less appealing
- Reduction in monthly income can make buying healthy foods challenging
- Illnesses such as Parkinson’s or arthritis can make it difficult to cook or feed oneself
- Dental issues can make chewing and swallowing difficult
What is the healthiest diet for seniors? Tips on maintaining a healthy diet for older adults
So what should seniors eat to stay healthy? The number one rule to keep in mind is to eat whole foods. This means eating real food and avoiding processed food that usually comes in boxes and cans. Fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread and cereals, low-fat dairy, lean protein, and beans and nuts. Other tips to help you or your loved one shift or maintain a healthy diet include:
- Choose nutrient-dense foods
- Avoid foods that are high in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium
- Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated
- Pick foods that are low in fat and cholesterol
- Read food labels
How can Seniors get Food Delivered? Meal Delivery is Becoming even More Common
A big part of any aging in place plan needs to address how food will be provided if the older adult is no longer able to secure food for themselves. There are many options for seniors to get groceries and prepared food delivered right to their homes.
Meal delivery for seniors in Colorado:
GoGoGrandparent offers grocery and meal delivery services, in addition to transportation and medication pickups. It works by having the older adult call the service, and a GoGo team member will take their order for meals from a local restaurant or groceries and otherwise manage the logistics of getting their order delivered to them.
Meal Kit Delivery Services: Companies such as Blue Apron and HelloFresh will deliver meal kits to your home. All the recipient needs to do is follow the simple instructions to add the ingredients together and cook.
Meals on Wheels Colorado is a nonprofit that offers free food and delivery of ready-to-eat, or easy-to-heat meals for caregivers and their homebound loved ones. Some also provide other services like nutritional counseling and personal care services. Contact the local Area Agency on Aging for referrals for assistance in your area.
Managing Medication and Health Conditions also Important to Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle
In addition to eating right, making sure older adults take their medication properly is crucial to staying healthy. Food consumption can play a role in this as sometimes medication needs to be taken either before or after a meal.
Making sure that medicine is taken is a big deal especially since so many seniors take some type of medication. In fact, the average older adult takes four medications, and 30% of older adults take five or more. Forgetting your medicine, taking it the wrong time of day, or taking the wrong dose can have severe adverse health effects.
To that end, Medication dispensing systems, also called automated medication management tools, have been developed to offer a secure and straightforward way for caregivers to manage medication for their loved ones. They are especially helpful for aging adults with memory problems.
These new smart-tech devices can do everything from reminders for when to take your medicine to dispensing the correct dose. Some pill dispensers even offer monitoring options for caregivers who want to keep track of their loved ones’ medication adherence for peace of mind.