Eating a well-balanced diet is essential for older adults. It can keep them energised 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 the nutritional needs, you need to plan your older adults’ diet in a way that they eat foods rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. However, there are various factors that impact your elderly’s diet like loss of appetite, difficulty in chewing or chronic health conditions. So, before you try to improve your older adult’s nutrition, it is essential to understand the common problems impacting their diet.
Factors Contributing to Malnutrition in the Elderly
Some of the common factors that cause malnutrition include
- Appetite Concerns: With age, many older adults experience loss of appetite. It happens due to loss of sense of taste and smell, chronic health condition or certain medications. Sometimes the loss of appetite happens because your elderly burns lesser calories due to less mobility and lack of physical activity.
- Difficulty in Chewing & Swallowing: If your elderly are facing dental issues like denture not fitting correctly or other dental concerns, then they may have chewing difficulties leading to malnourishment and loss of weight. Besides, most people with age can face swallowing problems too, which makes it difficult for them to eat.
- Chronic Health Conditions & Medications: Older adults often have a chronic health condition and take medications that impact their digestion and ability to absorb certain nutrients.
- Mental & Emotional Concerns: If your elderly has any mental illness like dementia, depression or social isolation, it may affect their desires and ability to eat.
- Loss of Mobility & Strength: Elders can become frail and immobile with age and are unable to shop for groceries and cook. Some of them are unable to make simple and easy to cook recipes too 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, mentioned above are some of the common ones. If your elderly is experiencing malnutrition or sudden weight loss, then you should consult the doctor to diagnose the underlying cause. Accordingly, you can implement the below tips and help your elderly.
- Plan Meals Under Expert Guidance: If your elderly is facing dietary issues, then you can consult a geriatric dietician who can suggest a diet. According to the health condition and specific requirements, a certified dietician can advise a nutrient-dense diet plan and easy to prepare recipes.
- Make Soft & Colourful Food: When cooking food for the elderly, ensure that 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 colourful and appetising.
- Serve Small & Frequent Meals: In case of appetite concerns, you can plan small meals and servings for your older adult. It will not be overwhelming for them and can help in fulfilling their dietary requirements.
- Make Meal-Time Enjoyable: If your elderly is finding mealtime boring, then ensure that they get accompanied during mealtime. You can have a caretaker for them or 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 Advantage of Services: If you are unable to help your elderly, then you can seek professional assistance. An attendant can supervise the meal intake of your older adult, ensuring that they eat correctly and can keep you informed too.
Hope the above tips are useful in providing your elderly with a nutritious and healthy diet. The diet goes a long way in keeping the elderly hale and hearty, and you need to take the necessary steps to ensure that your older adults get and eats nutritious meals. If you need assistance in diet planning or someone to supervise your older adult 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 loving elderly.