Good nutrition is fundamental in maintaining health and vitality, and this doesn’t change as a person gets older. Unfortunately, seniors often face barriers preventing them from accessing the optimum senior diets they need. For example, some seniors struggle to physically get to the grocery store, while others find food less appetizing due to a reduced sense of smell or taste. As a result of these varied challenges, aging adults sometimes end up eating less frequently or turning to convenience foods that lack nutritional value.
Why is Nutritious Food for Seniors so Important?
Good diet forms an excellent baseline for a senior’s overall health. Adequate nutrition can effectively prevent a whole host of health complications, from bone and muscle loss to cognitive decline. Poor senior diets may also lead to unintentional weight loss, which can open the door to a range of secondary health complications. For example, weight loss in the elderly has been linked to functional decline and reduced ability to carry out activities of daily living, as well as an increased risk of fractures and infections.
What Foods are Best for Senior Diets?
If you are looking to improve your health or that of an aging loved one, there are a few changes you can implement to make a great start.
- Try to serve meals that contain a well-balanced mixture of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products, protein and oils.
- Limit saturated fats, added sugars and sodium where possible.
- Encourage enjoyment of food for seniors. Mealtimes should be a pleasurable experience, and improving nutrition for seniors needn’t mean reinventing the wheel; the foods you or your loved one already know and love can usually be adapted.
- Speak to a professional. Before implementing any changes to your own or your loved one’s diet, it’s important to discuss any unique dietary needs with a doctor or dietician who specializes in senior diets.
How is Nutrition for Seniors Prioritized in Senior Living?
1. Meals and snacks are prepared fresh each day by highly trained staff.
As a senior ages at home, they may become less able to source, prepare and cook food independently, particularly if they are experiencing mobility issues or neurocognitive decline. Despite fresh food being optimal to meet nutritional needs, practical difficulties can lead to an increased reliance on unhealthy convenience foods or takeout. Senior living retirement communities in TX like Argent Court, provide expert chefs to prepare delicious, fresh meals each day, offering the ultimate in both nutrition and convenience
2. Senior diets tailored to the nutritional needs of aging individuals.
Over the course of a lifespan, nutritional needs evolve and adapt. Food for seniors should include plenty of protein to maintain muscle mass, plus calcium and vitamin D for bone health, for example. Other important nutrients for seniors include potassium, fiber and vitamin B12. As an aging senior or family caregiver, it can be difficult to produce a diet that meets all of these needs simultaneously. In senior living, meals are expertly designed to help seniors optimize their nutritional intake, without giving up the foods they love.
3. Monitoring of food intake.
Many seniors consume less food in general as they age. Though this may be due to a natural decline in appetite with reduced activity levels and metabolic rate, it’s important to ensure seniors are eating enough to keep them healthy. Unintentional weight loss is a common issue for seniors, and can be a result of anything from conditions like dementia, to loss of smell and taste making food less appetizing, or even dental or gastrointestinal changes. In senior living, food intake is carefully monitored to reduce a senior’s risk of rapid weight loss or health complications.
4. Offering a personalized mealtime experience.
When considering a move to fully catered senior living, you might worry that you or your loved one will miss out on all the treats they love. On the contrary, meals and snacks can be tailored to individual likes and dislikes, allowing for a feel just like home! Senior living catering teams are always open to suggestions and requests from residents and strive to provide the most personalized mealtimes possible. Because while meeting nutritional needs is important, being able to truly enjoy food is equally as vital in maintaining quality of life!
5. Hydration is considered alongside nutrition for seniors.
Food and hydration work in unison, but seniors are often at an increased risk of becoming dehydrated. As a person ages they may become less sensitive to thirst, and paired with other risk factors like decreased kidney function and medication side effects, this can make it difficult for seniors to meet their hydration needs. In mild cases, dehydration can lead to unpleasant symptoms like a dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness and muscle cramps. In more serious cases, seniors might suffer symptoms ranging from low blood pressure and increased heart rate to confusion and mobility issues. In the long-term, dehydration may also increase their risk of health issues like kidney stones and urinary tract infections (UTIs). In senior living facilities in TX, hydration is encouraged and prioritized both at mealtimes and throughout the day, and fluid intake is monitored to prevent discomfort and illness.
Have you noticed a senior loved one is losing weight rapidly, or dealing with unexplained issues like lack of mental clarity or reduced energy? Taking a look at their diet could be a good place to start. If you find your relative is struggling to access a fresh and adequately varied diet, it may be worth exploring the potential benefits of senior living.
To find out more about Argent Court and how we strive to provide excellent nutrition for seniors by offering tailored, dietitian-approved meals, get in touch or arrange a visit today!