As people get older, they tend to eat less ' but good nutrition is more necessary than ever.
Things You'll Need
- Low-fat Food
- Salt Substitutes
- Whole Grains
- Calcium Supplement
- Vegetable Steamers
Control portion sizes. People need fewer calories as they get older, and they should eat a balanced, moderate diet to keep their weight under control.
Read the information that comes with all medications to find out if there are any dietary restrictions that accompany the medication.
Try to lower the sodium intake of a senior citizen, especially if he or she is at risk for high blood pressure.
Make sure there is lots of fiber in the food you serve; this helps prevent constipation.
Serve low-sugar foods if the person you are feeding has diabetes or is at risk of becoming diabetic. A good diabetic cookbook will contain many helpful recipes and hints.
Serve heart-healthy foods ' low-fat, low-salt and preferably prepared from scratch. Prepare lots of healthy whole grains and vegetables, and cut down on red meat.
Make sure there is lots of calcium in the food you are cooking, or offer an easily absorbed calcium supplement; this helps prevent bone loss and osteoporosis in older people, especially women.
Consult a hospital nutritionist or dietician if an older person needs to be hospitalized for any serious health problem; this will prepare you for any dietary restrictions or nutritional requirements that you may not have considered.
Serve food that is easy on dentures, if necessary. Some foods are too chewy or too sticky for denture wearers to eat comfortably.
Monitor alcohol consumption; although the occasional glass of wine with dinner probably can't hurt, and may even benefit the heart to some degree, it's not a good idea for people of any age to drink too much, especially if medications are involved.
Tips & Warnings
- One of the by-products of aging is often a gradual loss of the senses of taste and smell ' food may begin to seem bland. Try to spice it up with seasonings that don't contain salt and won't irritate sensitive stomachs.
- Always ask the people you are feeding for suggestions, comments and special requests. They will almost certainly have specific tastes, likes and dislikes that you need to know about.
- Encourage older people to stay active; a healthy diet is great, but regular exercise is important, too.
- If you are concerned about the diet of an older person who lives alone, try to take a look inside the cupboards and fridge when you visit. Sometimes, especially after the loss of a spouse, seniors neglect themselves physically, and this can lead to malnutrition.
- If an older person is taking any medications, it may be a good idea to avoid grapefruits or grapefruit juice, which can react with many drugs (including some antihistamines and antibiotics) to intensify their effect. If you want to know which medications are affected in this way, just ask a pharmacist, or avoid grapefruit juice for at least a few hours before and after taking medications.
- If your parent or loved one is taking a lot of over-the-counter remedies for indigestion or heartburn, encourage him or her to see a doctor. Sometimes these complaints can signal more serious health problems.
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