How Important is Senior Nutrition?

Senior cutting vegetables for a healthy and nutritious mealEating a healthy, balanced diet is important for everyone. But seniors are at greater risk of failing to the meet their nutritional needs, and being misdiagnosed with various illnesses as a result.

Current guidelines recommend that each day, seniors consume:

  • 5 to 2.5 cups of fruits
  • 2 to 3.5 cups of veggies
  • 5 to 10 ounces of grains
  • 5 to 7 ounces of proteins
  • 3 cups of low-fat dairy
  • 5 to 8 teaspoons of oil
Solid fats and added sugars should be kept to a minimum.

What are some of the problems that interfere with seniors’ proper nutrition?

Aging taste buds. Our senses change as we age, and that can spell trouble for seniors’ diets. We tend to lose taste buds over time, and that changes how we experience different flavors. Food can seem more bland or sour, which doesn’t make seniors want to gobble it up.

Hearing Difficulties

Because many seniors lose some degree of hearing as they get older, dining out can become a dreaded scenario instead of treat. This means, where they once happily dined with friends and family, they may opt to stay home. If they are unable or uninterested in cooking, this, too, can be problematic for their diets.

Absent Aromas

If any sort of illness has claimed their sense of smell, food becomes far less appetizing. It is our olfactory and aural senses that work in concert to help build our hunger.

Problematic Teeth

If your loved one’s teeth make it difficult for them to chew, you’ll need to find alternative ways for them to consume nutrients, and shakes aren’t nearly as alluring to most people as a plate of delectable colorful food.

Slowed Metabolism

Elderly adults have a slower metabolism and no longer require as many calories as they once did. That may show in a lack of hunger. That can be OK, but it’s important to make sure it’s not slowing down too much, and the calories seniors are consuming contain the necessary vitamins and nutrients.

Medication

Medications can have a serious impact on seniors body, appetite and digestion, preventing them from eating as they should.

Psychological and Financial Factors

An inability to go grocery shopping, whether it’s due to fears of shopping alone or limited means, can also interfere with seniors’ diets, as can the loss of spouse or other forms of grief.

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Because of these and other challenges, many seniors become malnourished. This can show in several ways by showing weakness, disinterest or general decline in their well-being. They can also be struck with numerous common conditions that often can be avoided with proper nutrition: constipation, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Any sudden or unintended weight gain or loss can be a significant indicator of a problem, and you should contact your physician immediately. They may be able to assist with any of the problems listed above, or find another underlying cause.

It may also be helpful to meet with a dietitian or nutritionist, who can help you plan out meals or offer simple ways to meet your nutritional needs.

There are ways to improve your nutrition and help you feel your best. Make sure you talk to a professional about any issues you’re experiencing.

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