“What Should My Elderly Parent Eat?”
At Alvita Care, we often hear this question from adult children who are concerned about their parents’ nutritional needs.
As your parent ages, their bodies undergo many changes that affect their dietary needs. First off, starting at the age of forty, our body’s metabolism slows down. Additionally, our taste and smell senses weaken with age. This is the reason for why your elderly parent may over use salt or prefers to eat sweets, as this sense usually last the longest. Senior malnutrition is actually a common health risk apparent in elderly populations. Malnutrition can cause critical issues such as fatigue, depression, a weak immune system, heart problems, and anemia. The good news is that this issue can be easily addressed by arranging a balanced diet and taking multivitamins designed especially for seniors. In addition, a lot of elderly parents suffer from chronic diseases that require very specific and strict, nutritional choices.
Below are some helpful tips for making sure your parents are properly nourished:
1. As an older adult, your parent will need fewer calories but plenty of vitamins and minerals. Your elderly parents need more calcium and vitamin D in order to decrease risk of fractures. B-12 is especially important for brain function.
2. As a person gets older they may not feel as thirsty, even when their body needs fluids. It’s important that your elderly parent drinks plenty of water and other liquids that don’t contain caffeine. It would be helpful to have the caregiver constantly remind and encourage them to drink plenty of liquids.
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3. The gastrointestinal track slows as we age. This means that your elderly parent needs to eat many fiber-rich foods such as beans, oatmeal, fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads to keep up its function. Foods that are high in fiber will help your aging parent prevent constipation.
4. Protein is very important to be consumed by the elderly because protein helps build muscles and repairs body tissues when you are sick. Some good sources of protein for your elderly parent is fish, beans, peas, nuts and eggs.
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One quick, easy way to make sure your elderly parent eats at least one nutritious meal is to join them for lunch or dinner! Arranging a weekly dinner date for your elderly parent with yourself, a friend, or a neighbor will encourage your parent to eat healthier. Senior centers are a great way for your elderly parent to receive nutritious meals and activities. This is especially helpful if your elderly parent is isolated and lonely!
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At Alvita Care, our friendly family is always happy to help you locate programs that are in your neighborhood and fit your budget for your aging parent.