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5 Ways to Improve Nutrition in the Elderly

5 Ways to Improve Nutrition in the Elderly

According to the World Health Organization, a healthy diet is instrumental in protecting against malnutrition and various non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

In the “Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI)” Wave-1 (2017-18) report of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, it was found that about 27 % of those aged 60 and above are underweight, and about 22 % of the elderly are overweight/obese, indicating a dual burden of undernutrition and over nutrition among the elderly in India. These statistics highlight the necessity of adequate nutrition among the elderly.

A well-balanced diet is an essential aspect of elder care. It can keep them energized and helps in maintaining a healthy weight by providing all the vital nutrients. It also lowers the risk of developing chronic health conditions. Malnutrition, on the other hand, increases the risk of being overweight or underweight, weakens the bones and muscles, and makes the elderly more vulnerable to diseases. To meet their nutritional needs, older adults’ diets must be planned to eat foods rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. However, various factors impact diet, like loss of appetite, difficulty chewing, or chronic health conditions. To help older loved ones get better nutrition, it is essential to understand the common problems impacting their diet.

Factors Contributing to Malnutrition in Older Adults

Some of the common factors that can cause malnutrition include

  • Appetite Concerns: Many older adults experience a loss of appetite with age. It happens due to loss of sense of taste and smell, chronic health conditions, or certain medications. Sometimes, the loss of appetite happens because older adults burn fewer calories due to reduced mobility and lack of physical activity.
  • Difficulty in Chewing and swallowing: If the elderly face dental issues like dentures not fitting correctly or other dental concerns, they may have chewing difficulties leading to malnourishment and loss of weight. Besides, many people face swallowing problems as they grow older, which makes it difficult for them to eat.
  • Chronic Health Conditions & Medications: Older adults may have one or more chronic health conditions and take medications that impact their digestion and ability to absorb certain nutrients.
  • Mental & Emotional Concerns: If older adults have any mental illness like dementia, depression, or social isolation, it may affect their desires and ability to eat. Experts at Samvedna Care can help your loved ones understand themselves better through mental health tests.
  • Loss of Mobility & Strength: Elders can become frail and immobile with age and may find it difficult to shop for groceries and cook. Some cannot make simple and easy-to-cook recipes due to mobility issues. This inability to cook impacts their diet, making them weaker.

Ways to Improve Nutrition

There can be more reasons behind elderly malnutrition; however, some of the common ones are mentioned above. If your older loved one is experiencing malnutrition or sudden weight loss, you should consult a doctor to diagnose the underlying cause. Accordingly, you can implement the tips below and help your loved ones.

  • Plan Meals Under Expert Guidance: If the elderly face dietary issues, consult a geriatric dietician who can suggest a diet plan. A certified dietician can advise a nutrient-dense diet and easy-to-prepare recipes according to the health condition and specific requirements.
  • Make Soft and Colourful Food: When cooking food for the elderly, ensure it is easy to chew and swallow. By preparing such a meal, you can help your older adults to eat a wholesome and complete meal. Besides, ensure that simple food is not boring. Make it colorful and delicious.
  • Serve Small and Frequent Meals: In case of appetite concerns, you can plan small meals and servings for your older adult. It will not overwhelm them and can help fulfil their dietary requirements.
  • Make Meal-Time Enjoyable: If the elderly find mealtime boring, ensure that they get accompanied during mealtime. You can have a caretaker for them or a cook who comes and prepares and serves hot food. Besides, you can invite friends during mealtimes so that they can interact and enjoy the meal.
  • Take Professional Help: If you are unable to help your elderly, then you can seek professional assistance from organizations like Samvedna Care. We provide elder care services like attendants who can supervise the meal intake of your older loved ones, ensuring that they eat correctly and can keep you informed, too. Getting mental health tests done to rule out any signs of mental illness is also helpful.

You can follow the aforementioned tips in providing your elderly with a nutritious and healthy diet. The diet goes a long way in keeping the elderly happy and hearty, and you must take the necessary steps to ensure that your seniors get and eat nutritious meals. It is also important to note that a healthy mind resides in a healthy body. Hence the necessity of proper nutrition. If you need assistance in diet planning or someone to supervise your older loved ones to eat regularly and recommended food, then Samvedna Care experts can come to your aid. You can opt for diet management and meal planning and diet monitoring service and provide complete care to your loved ones. Always remember, that elderly care is very important to provide them with a quality life. If you struggle to give your older loved ones the care they deserve, do not hesitate to reach out for elder care services.

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