Nutrition is an important topic that needs to be discussed and assessed, even in our senior years. Poor nutrition is a common problem in older adults and those with chronic conditions. According to a survey done by Ross Laboratories, 30% of seniors will skip at least one meal a day. It’s important to prevent and treat poor nutrition as it can lead to more medical complications and hospital readmissions down the road. According to the National Institute of Aging, a good diet especially in later years, will reduce your risk of developing osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Some of the most common warning signs of poor nutrition are:
- Poor Appetite
- Unplanned weight loss
- Chewing and swallowing difficulties or mouth pain.
- Taking multiple medications
- Feeling weak or tired most of the time
- Swelling or fluid accumulation
It’s important to pay attention to these signs of poor nutrition as they are often overlooked as symptoms of aging, and therefore left untreated.
Whether its symptoms of arthritis that restrict your ability to cook, or medication that can cause forgetfulness and confusion, here are some tips to improve your nutrition:
- Reach out to family members or friends to help you plan your meals and snacks throughout the week. Make sure your meals have plenty of calories and protein.
- Try eating your favorite foods, even if it’s just a few bites. This could help to stimulate your appetite.
- If you eat bland foods, try spicing them up or add some extra flavors to help increase taste. Aging can cause your taste buds to decrease and negatively impact your overall eating experience.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids throughout the day. Drinking a full glass of water with pills is one way to increase fluid intake.
- Ask your care provider about taking therapeutic nutrition products to help supplement meals.
- Try to be active every day. Going for a short walk or cleaning the house could help increase your appetite.
- Ask family, friends or caregivers to join you for meals. They can make mealtime more enjoyable with conversation and companionship.
- Home care agencies can help by providing qualified caregivers to shop, prepare and serve nutritious meals.
- Research local services, such as senior centers that provide low cost meals in a congregate setting, or Meals on Wheels that can deliver a warm meal to your front door.
- National Institute on Aging
- National Council on Aging
- Homehelpers.com “When Seniors Won’t Eat”
- Go4Life, National Institute on Aging
( http://goforlife.nia.nih.gov tip-sheets/drinking)