We all know the importance of adhering to a healthy and balanced diet, yet knowing and doing are commonly worlds apart. For seniors, it’s much more important to prevent the temptations of making unhealthy food choices – and, often tougher. For many seniors, lifestyle choices are subject to a number of factors:
- Prescription side effects that influence taste and/or appetite
- Loss of loved ones, making mealtime an unhappy time
- Absence of interest in cooking for just one
- As well as others
But there is one prevalent – yet little discussed – reason behind unhealthy eating in seniors: monetary restrictions. Seniors on a budget may find it difficult to afford fresh, healthy foods, which frequently cost significantly more than a fast food meal or can of soup. These guidelines, from the National Council on Aging, which outline ways to ensure proper nutrition for the elderly, can help:
- Bear in mind that sticking with a wholesome diet can greatly improve health, with the possibility of preventing doctor visits and hospitalizations – saving seniors money in the long run.
- See if a senior you love is eligible for SNAP, a government program that covers the costs for fresh foods, such as vegetables and fruit. Visit BenefitsCheckUp.org to confirm eligibility. The typical benefit to seniors is $100/month.
- Check into the senior’s local Meals on Wheels program, which provides nutritious meals to older adults, along with the added benefit of a friendly volunteer who will deliver the food and improve socialization.
- If wasting fresh food is an issue for an older adult who lives alone, frozen fruits and veggies are an ideal option, allowing for easy preparation of individual-sized portions.
Keep the following in mind to make certain that your older loved ones are making the most beneficial food choices:
- Review the USDA’s ChooseMyPlate for the elderly with specific dietary and exercise guidelines for anyone 65 and older.
- Strive for an assortment of colors, especially brightly-colored foods such as tomatoes, carrots, peppers, eggplant, pumpkin, etc.
- Include lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy food, keeping sodium and sugar to a minimum while ensuring plenty of high fiber and nutrients which are particularly important in aging, such as vitamin D.
Reach out to the aging care specialists at Live Free Home Health Care for more strategies to help the seniors you love make and keep good nutrition habits. We’re always available to assist with buying groceries, meal planning and preparation, and ensuring the house is stocked with plenty of healthy and balanced food choices, together with sharing mealtimes with older adults to ensure they are more pleasurable. We will even clean up the kitchen afterwards! Reach out to us at 603-217-0149 for additional information about our senior care at home in Bristol and the surrounding communities.