Nutritional Care for the Elderly
These days, it seems you can’t open a newspaper or turn on the TV without being offered some new piece of advice on what you should or shouldn’t eat. No sooner did we start buying low fat spreads than we were told to switch back to butter, and we’re probably being a bit optimistic if we try counting a blueberry muffin as one of our “five a day”.
As we get older, our nutritional requirements change, to match the changes in our bodies and our pace of life. The diet you had aged 20 might not be the one that’s best for you at 70 or 80! Eating properly helps us remain in good condition, both physically and mentally, so with this in mind, here are some useful tips on how you can eat healthily without missing out on tasty treats!
Omega 3 and Calcium
Omega 3 fatty acids have been proven to reduce inflammation and significantly lower the risk of heart disease, arthritis and even some types of cancer, while calcium – as we’ve long known – is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and bones. Pecans, walnuts and flax seeds are an excellent source of Omega 3, as are oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines and tuna. Calcium becomes especially important as we get older. The World Health Organisation recommends that the over-50s get around 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day, which is the equivalent of about 4 cups of milk, or a vegan alternative such as almond or soy milk. Green veg such as broccoli, spinach and kale are also rich in calcium.
Reducing Your Salt Intake
Yes, there are few things nicer than a bag of chips doused liberally in salt and vinegar, but salt consumption can be a major contributing factor to hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease. As well as reducing the amount of salt you sprinkle on food, look out for the salt content of processed foods, as these are often very high in sodium.
As we get older and do less physical work and strenuous exercise, so we tend to feel thirsty less often, but that doesn’t mean our bodies no longer requires fluids. Staying hydrated is vital, so make sure you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Even caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea will help to keep dehydration at bay.
Take Things Gradually
Even when it’s done with the best of intentions, sudden changes to your diet can be disruptive. Older care recipients are often reluctant to change their ways, so it’s best to do these things in steps, rather than all at once. Try alternating between white and wholemeal breads and pastas before making a permanent switch to wholemeal. If you take two sugars with your tea, switch to one teaspoon of sugar and an artificial sweetener before cutting out sugar altogether. This way, you’ll have time to adjust to those changes by the time they become permanent.
Helping with meal preparation and nutritional advice are just two of the many services our carers provide. To find out more, please contact us using our online contact form, or call us on 0170 869 3057.