You may not know this, but senior nutrition is very different from younger adults and adolescents. For one, seniors tend to eat less, so knowing what to eat to maximize the positive benefits of the food they consume daily is critical.
How much food should they eat? When should they be eating? What should you be feeding them?
We’ll touch on these subjects and more to better help you and your loved one!
- Check For Drug Interactions
Number one on the checklist is making sure that there are no drug interactions with certain foods. For example, certain statins interact with fruits like grapefruit making them 3-10 times more powerful. This is bad for anyone, but for the elderly, this could be fatal.
Always check the labels of all medications before starting a new senior nutrition regimen, especially if caring for them is a new development as they may know of these interactions and forget to tell you.
The best option is to take a list of all medications down to their pharmacist and ask for help identifying any interactions that could be dangerous.
- Sudden Appetite Loss Should Be Explored
Most people think that seniors eat less as a rule, but that isn’t necessarily true. Many factors can contribute to their slow pace of eating and lack of interest (like tooth pain) but if you see a sudden decline in appetite, consult with their doctor.
Many healthy seniors have small appetites, and many maintain large appetites, but an abrupt decrease in hunger is usually a sign that something is going on internally. It may be any of hundreds of things, so it’s best that their doctor is informed and that you schedule an appointment immediately with them.
- Give Them Smaller Meals
If your loved one doesn’t eat much, it is wise to give them food in smaller portions more frequently throughout the day. This will help you in two major ways: increasing the total amount of daily food intake and better monitoring the amount of food eaten.
If you give them smaller food chunks throughout the day, you’ll have a better idea of just how much food they can take in at each sitting. This is a good way to gauge their total caloric intake per day and to make alterations to your food choices to better fuel them each day.
- Better Food
High-quality food is always vital. When it comes to senior nutrition, there are two groups to consider, the under-eaters and the healthy eaters. If you have a healthy eater under your care, then you can go about feeding them as you would with any other adult, at least for the most part.
If you have an under eater, though, try to feed them higher caloric meals to make sure that when they eat they are getting adequate nutrition. If they eat meat, it is a good idea to give them the type that they like and find a higher calorie option (like choosing dark meat instead of breast meat with chickens) to better ensure they are getting a good amount of food.
One great way to do this is by giving them fish with higher fat content. This is preferred because this will give them more calories and healthy Omega-3 fats in their diet. If they don’t like fish, there are other options, and their doctor may be interested in giving them a multivitamin to supplement their nutrition.
While it may seem tempting to give them multivitamins to help increase the amount of healthy nutrients in their diet, don’t do this without consulting a physician first. Just like we talked about earlier, there could be drug interactions when levels of certain vitamins or minerals are too high in the blood stream.
Not only that, it’s another pill to swallow. Most seniors these days have enough pills on their plate already. Instead, try to give them all the nutrients possible through the food they consume. If that’s not feasible, then it’s time to consult with their doctor.
Remember that seniors don’t need fewer nutrients than we do because they’re old and everything is slowing down. If anything, they need more nutrients to keep everything working as well as possible!
Colonial knows how hard it can be to get senior nutrition down, but our staff is trained extensively on the subject to ensure proper care. If you have questions on how to better feed you elderly loved one, call us at (714) 289-7220, or you can email us here for more information today!