Caregiver’s Guide to Senior Nutrition

Malnourishment is rampant in the elderly, due to many reasons (lack of knowledge, loss of appetite, etc.) This caregiver’s guide to senior nutrition will help you with everything you need to know about senior nutrition

Giving a well-balanced meal for older adults in your care is the essential duty of a caregiver. But a healthy diet is a complicated subject, further complicated by the preferences and idiosyncrasies of the patient.

This guide will help you understand what constitutes a healthy diet for an older adult, and we will also share a couple of healthy recipes that you can try yourself.

Caregiver's Guide to Senior Nutrition

Malnourishment Plagues Seniors 

Malnutrition is defined as the condition of not receiving enough nutrients in the body. Malnutrition is not like starving, though starving obviously causes malnutrition itself. 

It is the deficiency of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, and many other nutrients required by your body. It is also the most evident issue in seniors nowadays, whether in nursing homes or their own houses. 

The USA healthcare system is currently not sufficiently equipped to handle the problems of malnutrition in older adults. This statement can be justified by the findings that 5.2 million seniors in the USA were food insecure in 2019. 

Poverty and many other financial issues lead to nutritious diets that are a bit non-accessible for them. Therefore about 16% of the population is suffering from hunger issues. 

Almost half of the adults in the United States of America are suffering from or at risk of malnutrition. This makes them highly vulnerable to many other diseases like a deficiency in immune systems and more extended hospital stays.

Top 5 Ways Combat Senior Malnutrition

Small but frequent meals

You should take small and frequent meals in a day if you’re genuinely concerned about diet. It might not be sufficient for the elderly at times, but it would help them meet their dietary requirements.

Soft and chewable food

Try cooking soft and colorful food items: while planning a diet or cooking food for the elderly, keep in mind that it should be easily chewable and easy for them to swallow. By making such meals, you can give your elderly a wholesome diet.

Also, try to make colorful food items as if they find it appealing they would wish to try it, whereas eating regular food makes it boring for them.

Caregiver's Guide to Senior Nutrition

Planned meals

Try planning meals by taking an expert’s guidance: Planning meals according to your nutritionist’s guidance would be more beneficial than planning them yourself. A nutritionist can plan the diet according to your health condition, making it easier to consume and helpful.

Regular exercise

It would help if you tried getting them to do regular exercise, which keeps them more active and therefore more amenable to eating. 

Make meal time social

Plan social activities and mealtimes with your loved ones: You should try having meals with other family members on the table as well as it makes the mealtime more happening. It would help if you tried to go on walks and exercise with your near and dear ones as it makes you more active and even enjoys relieving all your stress.

How To Maintain A Healthy Diet During Old Age?

Everyone’s nutritional needs vary according to their body type. Here are a few tips for maintaining a healthy diet:

  • Try eating enough fibrous food content: Fiber is necessary for a healthy digestive system as it helps avoid constipation and other digestive problems such as high cholesterol levels. Some of the sources of fiber may include – Fruits, vegetables, lentils, nuts, oats, seeds, etc. Also, if a person finds it difficult to eat enough fiber, your doctor would usually recommend a fiber supplement such as Metamucil.
  • Try choosing healthier convenience food items: If you are relying on convenience food products, you should opt for products such as low sodium soups, packed salad, instant oatmeals, grilled turkey, frozen vegetables, and fruit items.
  • Try staying hydrated or consuming more and more water: At times, adults forget to drink water, or they may not notice it as much as others do. Hence it would help to drink as much as 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. You can also prefer consuming fruits and vegetables that are rich in water.
  • You should focus on consuming nutrient-rich food products such as green leafy vegetables: Eating nutrient-rich foods products will help you get the vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fats that your body requires, for example, consumption of fruits, beans, vegetables, seeds, and dairy products.
Caregiver's Guide to Senior Nutrition

Common Healthy Foods That The Elderly Can Consume

If you are an older adult you may not be able to consume many heavy foods because of dental problems. There are a variety of healthy foods that you can consume instead: 

  • Try consuming smoothies as much as you can, as smoothies can provide you with a good amount of nutrition in a small portion of it. You can even add chia seeds, peanut butter, flax seeds, etc., to gain as many benefits as you wish too.
  • You can even consume whole-fat yogurt: Yogurt is one of the easiest snacks you can consume with added benefits. It provides probiotic benefits as long as you wish to consume dairy.
  • Having healthy fruits is also a great option. One such fruit which is quite beneficial and easy to chew for older adults is avocado. Avocado is a high nutrient food item that is rich in fiber, antioxidants, and potassium.
  • Having nuts and seeds is essential for your age: You can add nuts and various seeds in smoothies, shakes, salads, and even Asian dishes. It is necessary for older people as it boots brain strength and even provides you energy. 

Some Easy Healthy Recipes

Polish Potato Pancakes

Polish potato pancakes are one of the most delicious comfort foods you should try your hands on. These are crispy on the outside, soft and moist on the inside and full of calories essential for elders. To make it all you need is:

Ingredients:

  • 5 large potatoes (peeled and grated)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 grated onion
  • Salt to taste
  • 100ml Oil for frying (olive or vegetable)

How to make it?

  • In  a large bowl mix grated potato, onion, eggs, flour, and salt. 
  • Now take a frying pan and heat it on medium-high heat. Add oil and heat it too. 
  • After the oil has heated, drop 2 to 3 spoonfuls of mixtures on the pan and make small circles roughly 1/4th inch thick. 
  • After 1 min flip the side of the pancake and let it brown from the other side too. 
  • Make 4 to 5 pancakes with a similar process. 
  • Take them out on the paper towel, serve with sour cream and granulated sour and enjoy!

Nutrition Quotient

  • Calories: 434
  • Fat: 26 g
  • Carbs: 44g
  • Protein: 7g
Caregiver's Guide to Senior Nutrition

Broccoli Spinach Soup

You can make a broccoli spinach soup, which is both delicious to serve and easy to make. It also helps you include more green vegetables to your food. You will find it much easier to include veggies as soup instead of as side dishes or eating it in salad form. To make it all you need is:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bowl broccoli flowers
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 bowl spinach leaves
  • 15-20grams butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to make it?

  • Add butter and garlic in a saucepan and saute it for 30 secs. 
  • Now add onion and saute it for 30 more secs. 
  • Add broccoli, saute and let it cook for 3 mins until it is tender. 
  • Add milk, spinach, cheese, salt and pepper after 3 mins and saute well and bring everything to boil. 
  • Now turn off the heat. Let it cool down for a few minutes and with a hand blender blend it until smooth. 
  • Garnish with some grated cheese, broccoli flowers and some creme and enjoy!

Nutrition Quotient

  • Calories: 150.8
  • Vitamin E: 17.9 %
  • Protein: 6.4 g
  • Sodium: 173.4 mg
Caregiver's Guide to Senior Nutrition

Importance Of Maintaining A Healthy Gut

Gut health describes the function and balance of bacteria in many parts of the gastrointestinal tract. All food is ultimately broken down into the gut and then goes to the bloodstream and can be delivered as nutrients throughout our bodies. 

A healthy gut communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which can help you maintain your body health and immunity.

Good Bugs In The Gut

Probiotics are good gut bugs. They are generally found in fermented foods, as well as can be found in some supplements. The microbes living in your gut vary from person to person 

They have a role in controlling our appetite and the chemicals they release can easily reset the appetite center in the brain, and can even contribute to weight gain or loss. 

These also help with glucose utilization and can even alter the ratio between white and brown fat-storing cells.

The gut bacteria present can help your body synthesize some of the important vitamins that help your body fight against diseases. A healthy gut can help you reduce fatigue, and can improve performance in athletes.

Importance Of Water

The human body is made up of 50-75 percent water. Water forms the basis of blood, urine, digestive juices, and bones, fat, and lean muscle.

The amount of water we need every day depends on our weight, body metabolism, and the climatic conditions we live in. The human body cannot store water permanently, and to fulfill the daily requirement of our lungs and other body organs, we need optimum water intake for the body.

Caregiver's Guide to Senior Nutrition

Importance Of Water Softener

A water softener is a device or a substance that turns hard water soft by removing chemicals in the water that cause hardness.

Using a water softener will help you improve your natural hair as a water softener prevents your hair from further damage.

Using a water softener also has an impact on the skin. Soft water goes deeper into the skin than soap lather and can help your skin glow easily and will help your skin hold moisture easily.

Importance Of Natural Minerals In Our Water

Water from natural sources such as mountain springs contain minerals such as sodium and potassium that are very important for us. These are some of the things these minerals do for us:

  • It helps in carrying nutrients and oxygen to body cells.
  • It keeps the skin moisturized to maintain its appearance and texture.
  • Water provides maximum lubrication to the joints,
  • The water easily flows through blood vessels as the bloodstream has enough liquids.
  • Water helps reduce the risk of cystitis by keeping the bladder hydrated and hygienic and preventing bacteria.
  • It even works as a shock absorber inside the spinal cord and the eyes.
  • Getting the right amount of water intake is very necessary. Not taking enough water can increase the risk of kidney stones and funerary tract infections. The lack of fluid intake can result in poor mental performance as the brain nerve doesn’t receive enough oxygen cells to function.

Kind Of Diet By Blood Type 

The American Diabetes Association recommends you to adopt a more practical approach and expects you to take a strict diet according to your blood type for better health.

Eating according to your blood type can be beneficial. Eating a proper diet according to your blood type can help you get food more efficiently and have much more energy. When a person eats food according to the blood type, the food reacts chemically in a manner that even helps you lose weight.

Caregiver's Guide to Senior Nutrition

Here’s what you can eat according to your blood type

  • Type O Blood: People with type O tend to have various stomach diseases, and the ideal diet they should take is a meat-free diet that is solely based on fruits and vegetables and is organic and fresh.
  • Type A blood: People with A blood type generally have a weak immune system. They focus more on fresh, organic fruits and vegetables and a meat-free diet that is easier to digest and much healthier.
  • Type B blood: People with B type should avoid foods like tomato, beans, legumes, even meat can be problematic. They should only take green vegetables, eggs, and only low-fat dairy products.
  • Type AB blood: People with AB type have low blood acid. They should avoid taking alcohol, coffee, and cured meat and focus on food products, including tofu, green vegetables, organic fruits, etc.

IBS Diet

Irritable bowel syndrome affects nearly 10% of people in the US. It can have a big effect on a person’s health, causing symptoms such as bloating, gas, body cramps, etc.

The IBS diet that needs to be followed is the FODMAP diet

The FODMAP diet stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols

These fermentable short-chain carbohydrates are prevalent in the diet of IBS patients.

Some products to be avoided during an IBS diet

  • Lactose: Cow Milk, ice cream, ricotta pudding, custard are the few items that should be avoided.
  • Fructose Sweeteners, sugar products, fruits having high sugar levels should be avoided; otherwise can make the problem even worse.
  • God: Vegetables such as broccoli, kidney beans, and soy products have GOS, which should be avoided to decrease these symptoms.
  • Polyols: Vegetables such as cauliflower, maltitol, and mints found in sugar-free gum and mints and cough medicines and drugs should be avoided to decrease the IBS symptoms.
Caregiver's Guide to Senior Nutrition

The foods items that you should more focus on during the IBS diet:

  • Grains: Oat, Oat bran, such as rice, corn, white rice should be taken more to increase roughage.
  • Nuts/Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, nuts should be consumed every day for better health.
  • Vegetables: Bamboo shoots, potatoes, carrots, olives, lettuce, bok choy are highly beneficial while taking an IBS diet.
  • Fruit: Bananas, blueberries, grapefruit, kiwi lemon can prompt better health for IBS patients.

The basic idea behind this diet is to provide a restrictive food chart, but it can also help you check which products your body is more tolerant to. A food diary chart can be beneficial in reducing symptoms of IBS and improving health. If you continue to stick with the FODMAP diet, it can benefit you and improve your quality of life.

Basic Health Self Screening

It is essential to think about personal screening that can alert you to possible health problems. Self-testing is necessary to ensure that our body is healthy and perfect.

Nowadays,self-testing videos are available to assist with using and checking your results on your own. The added guidance is also provided in self-test kits that can help you consult if the test seems incorrect or you need further assistance.

Some tests are doctor recommended that can be done on your own such as:

  • Measuring blood pressure: Your doctor may give you a portable monitor at home for assistance. You might have borderline high blood pressure.
  • Check for skin cancer: Frequent self-skin checks may help you find cancer early. Changing moles, blemishes, and other areas can be shown to the doctor while looking out for skin cancer.
  • Check your feet for diabetes: You can look on your own at your feet and other problems before your feet have severe infections. In this way, you can look out for diabetes.
Caregiver's Guide to Senior Nutrition

Wrapping Up!

Consuming the food mentioned above and following these tips would surely benefit you and make you fit and healthy.