Elder Care and Nutrition
As we age, our digestive system begins to change. Changes are an inexorable part of the aging process, and differences in things like eating habits can also be a side-effect of degenerative neurological disorders. Family caregivers are often be left confused about how they can help, since ensuring that your loved one is getting properly nourished is very important. Below we will share some tips on how you can anticipate some changes, how you can help your loved one eat enough, and how to promote healthy habits.
- Stay Hydrated: As we age, our ability to conserve water is reduced and we have more difficulty maintaining electrolyte balances. As a result, we can become dehydrated more easily. On average, we need about 8 cups of water a day to stay hydrated. Try to make sure your loved one is drinking enough water. If your loved one is not keen on drinking water, see if other flavorful beverage, like Gatorade, appeal to them. Keep in mind that certain drinks like coffee, teas, and alcohol can actually be dehydrating. Lastly, some foods contain a lot of water and can be great ways to help your loved one eat and stay hydrated. Foods like cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes, grapes, and cantaloupes are comprised of a lot of water.
- Emphasize nutritious foods: When you are trying to get your loved one to eat, make sure the foods are nutritious. This means make sure that your loved one gets a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, as well as micronutrients like vitamins C, D, K, etc. Foods to eat are dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli, along with lean proteins like fish, chicken, beans, and legumes. Any carbohydrates should be relatively unprocessed, like whole wheat bread/pasta, brown rice, or quinoa. Warning: Beware of eating raw or undercooked foods like sushi, raw broccoli, ceviche, etc. because of the risk for getting food poisoning. The elderly are especially vulnerable to such sicknesses.
- Take supplements sparingly: Supplements like vitamin tablets can be beneficial, only when used as prescribed by a medical professional. If your loved one does not eat enough, ensuring they are getting all of the vitamins they need can be taken care of with a supplement. But before you add this to your loved one’s diet, talk to their primary care provider. The reason that we caution such practices is that supplements are not regulated like other over-the-counter products. So it is important that you find the right kind of supplement for your loved one.
If you have any other questions, please call us at ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website!