Eating well is important no matter the age, but it can become increasingly difficult for seniors to get the proper nutrition their bodies need as they age. Health issues and physical limitations play a role in the rising problem of malnutrition in our seniors. Poor nutrition and malnutrition occur in 15% to 50% of the elderly population.
Let’s look at the causes of poor nutrition:
- Decrease in Sensitivity – Senses such as taste and smell can decline with age. Meals that are not appetizing is less likely to be eaten.
- Medication Side Effects – Side effects of some medications include reduced appetite, nausea, or simply throwing off taste buds.
- Poor Dental Health – Dentures that do not fit properly, jaw pain, mouth sores, missing teeth, or other dental problems can make eating difficult or painful.
- Financial Burden – Sometimes finances play a role. Groceries can get expensive, making the cheaper, less nutritious options seem like the better solution.
- Forgetfulness – Dementia, poor memory, or alzheimer’s can cause seniors to get off schedule, eat the same foods over and over, or even forget the last time they have eaten.
- Depression – Life can get harder as you age. Loved ones might be far away or simply do not visit as often, bodies start to fail; loneliness takes hold. Depression can decrease appetites or simply cause one not to care.
Ensuring Proper Nutrition:
- Offer Better Food Options – There are plenty of nutritionally-dense foods such as peanut butter, seeds, nuts, olive oil, brown rice, whole wheat bread, fresh fruits and vegetables, benas, legumes, meat, and dairy products.
- Aromas and Flavors – Appeal to the senses. Intensify flavors and aromas with marinades, herbs, and seasonings.
- Make it Fun – Make mealtimes a social event. Maybe make dinner a family event or invite friends over.
- Healthy Snacking – Small snacks throughout the day also help. Snacks like nuts, seeds, cheese, and cereals are a great choice.
- Take Care of the Teeth – Proper oral health enhances nutrition and appetites. If their teeth or jaw is hurting, get it looked at by a dentist or proper physician.
- Set Reminders – Sticky notes, calendars, alarms… Anything to help set a routine.
For more information, visit GreatOaksManagement.com.