5 Tips for Ensuring Your Senior Eats Right at Home
If your senior loved one is still living at home on their own, you may wonder if they are eating right, and eating enough. It’s important to consume a well-balanced diet because it’s a big component of staying healthy as they age. Not only can it help them maintain a healthy weight and stay energized, it also lowers their risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Even though you may be caring for your elderly loved one, you can’t be there all the time. How do you know they’re eating properly in your absence? Hiring trusted homemaker services can give you peace of mind, as personal caregivers can prepare and serve healthy meals to your senior.
1. Create a Healthy Eating Plan
A healthy eating plan includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy or fat-free dairy. It also includes lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, and nuts. A good diet is low in saturated and trans fats, salt and added sugars. Eating right isn’t complicated if you follow these guidelines, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whether fresh, frozen or canned. Reach for dark green vegetables such as broccoli and leafy greens, as well as orange vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots.
- Get lots of protein, not just from meat but from fish, beans and peas as well.
- Eat three ounces of whole-grain cereals, crackers, breads, pasta or rice a day, opting for whole grains when possible.
- Have 3 servings of fat-free dairy or low-fat dairy fortified with vitamin D for healthy bones. Good choices include milk, yogurt or cheese.
- Eat only polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, switching from solid fats to oils when preparing food.
2. Focus on Nutrient-Rich Foods
As your senior loved one ages, their caloric needs decrease a bit, while their nutrient needs stay the same or increase, according to Healthline. Add nutrient-rich foods to their menu so they get the vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fats they need to thrive.
Examples of nutrient-dense foods include:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy
- Lean protein
3. Limit High-Calorie Foods
Limit foods that are low in nutrients yet high in calories. Save desserts and sweetened beverages for the occasional treat, if approved by their doctor.
Even if you don’t have time to shop for your loved one, you can hire a personal caregiver to run errands such as grocery shopping. All you have to do is provide a list of healthy options and they will do the rest.
4. Stay Hydrated
As seniors age, they don’t realize they are thirsty as often as younger people do. This makes it really easy to become dehydrated. Make sure they are drinking fluids on a regular basis. Encourage them to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. They can also consume low-sugar juice, tea, soup, or water-rich fruits and vegetables to get the hydration they need.
5. Add Physical Activity to the Mix
Balancing physical activity and a healthy diet is the ideal recipe for health and fitness. Seniors should be active for at least half an hour a day. You can break this up into three 10-minute sessions. And it doesn’t have to be strenuous. A walk around the block is perfectly fine. Your loved one’s personal caregiver can also help out with this, as part of companion care services.