March is National Nutrition Month and for seniors, it’s the perfect time of year to review their nutrition habits and challenges. It’s reported that only 17% of older adults eat a “good” quality diet, which is far below their younger peers. There are a variety of reasons why seniors can struggle with proper nutrition, as well as a variety of unique solutions that can meet those challenges head-on. Here’s what you need to know about senior nutrition, whether you are an older adult yourself or simply someone who loves an aging adult.
Barriers to Good Senior Nutrition at Home
Older adults can face challenges when it comes to proper senior nutrition, especially if they live at home alone. For example, for many healthy older adults, simply planning and preparing meals for one every day can be a challenge. Seniors are used to preparing meals for 2-4 people, and scaling down to individual portions can feel lonely and extra challenging. Attempting to do it three times per day can be downright frustrating, which can often lead to ordering food from a local restaurant more times than recommended.
In addition to preparing meals for one, seniors who have chronic pain can struggle with the task of meal preparation and cooking as well. Standing at the grocery check-out line or even at the stove for long periods of time can increase pain, making the task take a backseat in their daily routine.
Seniors with cognitive decline can also struggle with meals. Some seniors can struggle with safely preparing meals while others can forget what time it is, leading to overeating or undereating, both of which are not healthy.
Finally, other age-related conditions or medication side effects can lead to decreased appetite. When a senior isn’t hungry, they don’t have the motivation to prepare a nutritious meal. Instead, they may graze throughout the day, snacking on what is available, no matter how healthy.
Warning Signs of Poor Nutrition
As a family member of an aging loved one, it is important to know the warning signs that could signal a serious senior nutrition issue. Here are a few things to keep your eyes peeled for:
- Sudden or gradual weight loss or gain
- Expired food in the fridge or cabinets
- Decreased visits to the grocery store
- Increased trips to restaurants
- Decreased appetite
- A shift in eating habits or preferences
Healthy food contributes to healthy bodies, no matter the age. For seniors, a healthy diet can boost the immune system and contribute to overall health or recovery. The team at Total Care Connections offers a variety of services that can make healthy eating easier for an adult living at home alone or with a partner:
- Grocery shopping with or without the senior
- Meal planning
- Meal preparation
- Making a double batch of a recipe and putting individual portions in the fridge for easy reheating later
- Medication management
- Communication with the care team about any medication side effects that negatively impact eating
- Pain monitoring, especially how it relates to appetite
- Dementia care services that include preparing meals the senior can enjoy independently
Call us today to tell us more about your nutrition-related challenges or goals. We are here to help!