Sad as the situation may be, many senior citizens do not gain the nutrition they need on a daily basis. This situation is even more dire for those seniors who live in retirement and acute care homes. In most cases, some of these seniors do not have the ability to express their hunger or their access to food might be limited more than families realize. Considering that hydration and nutrition are core aspects of basic human needs, it comes as no surprise that some seniors have a hard time managing their recovery times because they do not gain the nutrition they need. Here is a closer look at the nutritional essentials every senior should know about in order to remain healthy for the sake of healing faster and living a longer life.
Look for the Right Vitamins and Minerals
Knowing what vitamin and minerals to go after in a solid diet can be rather confusing. After all, there are so many vitamins and mineral options out there to pick from. In some cases, multivitamins and other related supplements might not be enough to gather these nutritional needs, either. Therefore, senior citizens need to look for their vitamins and minerals in other areas. Here are some essential vitamins and minerals to a senior citizen’s health looked at in-depth.
In order to promote the quality vision, senior citizens need to consume a great deal of Vitamin A. For men, this means gaining at least 900 mcg a day, whereas women need 700 mcg daily. Vitamin A will also keep an immune system running in a healthy manner. Some resources for Vitamin A include the beta carotene in carrots and deep-green, leafy vegetables. Fish is also another great food from which to gain Vitamin A.
When it comes to looking after the brain and nerve cells, senior citizens should consider gaining a daily dose of thiamine, also known as Vitamin B1. Men need 1.2 mg each day, and women need 1.1 mg daily. This vitamin is also good at helping cells to convert food over to energy, so it aids in digestion a great deal. Whole grains such as those found in enriched breads and cereals provide a wealth of thiamine. It is important to understand that antacids and some diuretics can lower the body’s thiamine levels, which will decrease absorption of minerals and other vitamins from food.
Vitamin B12 plays a large role in many parts of the body. The primary purpose of Vitamin B12 is to keep nerves functioning correctly while also helping red blood cells intact. Studies indicate that people over the age of 50 cannot absorb enough B12 on their own from food alone, so they may need to take a supplement or obtain a monthly shot. Not having enough Vitamin B12 results in tiredness and problems with balance. Both men and women need 2.4 mcg of Vitamin B12 each day, and they can gain it from fish, lean meat, and dairy products.
Lower the Salt Intake and Spice it Up
The body does not enjoy bland flavors nearly as much. Even so, subtle flavors can also taste bland. With this situation being the case, especially since some specialized diets are more bland and subtle in flavor, senior citizens need to add flavor to their foods. This task is easily done through herbs and spices. Most senior citizens lean toward using salt heavily in their foods, but this situation poses a few problems. For one, it can increase problems with hypertension. Therefore, instead of adding more sodium, seniors should rely on other flavor means. At the same time, they should look at eating food lower in sodium altogether.
Go for Raw
Whenever the chance presents itself, seniors should add raw fruits and vegetables to their plates. For one, these foods help to keep the digestive tract moving regularly due to their fibrous state when raw. This statement is especially true of apples and green, leafy vegetables. For senior citizens who do not have steady hands or knife skills, they should consider purchasing fruits and vegetables that have already been sliced before packaging. Apples commonly come in this way, and some vegetables are starting to follow suit.
Look at Medications and Appetite
In some cases, senior citizens do not want to eat much depending on what their medications due to their appetites. Some side effects of certain medications kill the willpower to eat all together in some people. This situation can pose dangerous drawbacks to senior citizens as they are not likely to eat enough on a daily basis if their medication makes them feel as if they do not want to eat. At the same time, this situation can lead to malnutrition and overall poor health. Therefore, senior citizens should speak with their doctors to determine what types of food or supplements to consider for keeping their appetites and metabolisms going strong.
Finding Ways around Lack of Appetite
There are other reasons behind why senior citizens might lack an appetite outside of medication side effects. Some of them just do not feel like eating much due to being lonely. Therefore, they need to find social situations for eating on a routine basis. After all, most senior living homes offer the chance to eat in a dining room setting for a reason. This social aspect means eating food more slowly as well, so digestion can take its good old time. Eating with other people around also raises the chances of avoiding depression, too. Many older adults fall into depressive states when they become alone, so they need to find outlets against this problem as much as possible.
When it comes to eating right, senior citizens need to make sure they fend off against certain diseases. One such disease is diabetes. Keeping off extra weight through exercise is not the only factor at play here. Yet again, whole grains come out to play in this instance. Therefore, people need to avoid refined grains and skip out on soda and sugar as much as possible to keep their bodies running right. Another way to help prevent diabetes is by avoiding processed meat. This statement includes bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats. Not only does avoiding these foods help to prevent diabetes, but it can also lead to lowering cholesterol due to lessened sodium intake. Instead of using these meat sources, senior citizens should focus on beans, poultry, fish, and nuts instead.
Osteoporosis refers to the development of low bone mass in the body, and this diagnosis seems to be climbing the charts. Therefore, senior citizens need to find nutritional ways to avoid this disease as much as possible. Some studies indicate this task can be achieved through eating micronutrients. Some of these micronutrients include Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, magnesium, and potassium. Above all, they need to gain the right amount of calcium on a daily basis. After all, osteoporosis can result in calcium being stripped from the body in weakened joint areas. Hence, a need exists to replenish that loss ratio as much as possible.
Understand the Importance of Food Groups
Children learn a lot about food groups in elementary and middle school nowadays. However, much of that knowledge does not seem to make it out to family settings. Some older people might have learned this information some time ago. However, they could have easily forgotten how important it is to use these food groups as a guideline to proper eating. Therefore, going back to basics often poses as a reoccurring need for most senior citizens. Along with becoming aware of these food groups comes the need to also understand portion sizes. The typical American diet is overrun with extremely large portions, so it can be difficult to trim back on portions over a given time frame. This situation is all the more important for senior citizens as they tend not to eat as much as other, younger people. Hence, they need to make the most of what food they do eat, which reverts to using food groups properly.
Understanding the Importance of Proteins versus Carbohydrates
Most people understand the importance of both proteins and carbohydrates in a diet. Proteins tend to take longer for the body to burn and convert into energy or other minerals and vitamins. Carbohydrates burn and convert much faster. For this reason alone, proteins need to be eaten first, so they have plenty of time to digest. However, gaining the right proteins and carbohydrates is essential to any diet. The closer a product is to a raw state before being cooked makes for a better, more nutritious meal.
When it comes to looking at nutrition for senior citizens, a few factors are at play. The items looked at above are only a few of the many items to consider. Therefore, speaking with a doctor or a nutritionist about a person’s needs when problems arise with nutrition is a must. Otherwise, situations of malnutrition can occur, which can lead to hospitalization or worse.