As your elderly loved one progresses through the later decades of his or her life, there are a number of challenges that will arise. By being mindful of his or her nutrition and ensuring that he or she is eating properly can maximize his or her chances of remaining healthy and happy during this time of life. Here are some things to think about when you are considering what type of diet would be best for your loved one.
How food can affect the quality of life
Proper nutrition is not only something that should be considered when trying to maximize the life span of an elderly person. In addition to lengthening the life span, a proper diet with good nutrition is instrumental in improving one’s quality of life.
For example, it is well-settled that the regular consumption of green tea is beneficial when it comes to reducing the frequency and severity of dementia-related problems. By increasing your loved one’s mental faculties you will help him or her to enjoy his or her senior years more fully.
Green tea contains polyphenols, which have neuroprotective properties in that they can bind with toxic chemicals and keep them from the brain. Green tea also contains flavonoids that prevent the formation of plaque in the brain, and there is some evidence that it may even break down existing plaque. Green tea also stimulates the parts of the brain that work with memory. The America Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a scientific study that showed a more than 50% lowering of the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia when people consumed green tea on a regular basis.
Other advantages of good nutrition include feeling better both physically and psychologically, as well as improved health and physical stamina. By keeping these matters in mind when considering what would be the best diet for your loved one you can help him or her live longer, live better, and enjoy life more fully.
Changing nutritional needs
As the body ages, its needs begin to change. An older person will need fewer calories to maintain his or her healthy weight than a younger person. In addition, while the body of a younger person may be able to compensate for a shortage of an important nutrient, an elderly person is more likely to feel the effects of a poor diet.
Key factors of a healthy diet
Your elderly loved one should make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. It is important for him or her to actually eat the fruit or vegetable as opposed to trying to meet his or her nutritional requirements by drinking fruit and vegetable juice. Fruits and vegetables contain fiber and vitamins that may be lost if your loved one is only drinking juice. By eating the entire fruit or vegetable he or she will also feel fuller and be less likely to binge on unhealthy snacks. The fiber will also help lower the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.
Remember to ensure that your loved one is eating foods with sufficient calcium to strengthen his or her bones. This is especially important in elderly women who are susceptible to osteoporosis. Although most people look to dairy products as a source of calcium, it is important to remember that over-consumption of dairy can bring its own health concerns. Instead of relying solely on dairy for all of your loved one’s calcium needs, consider supplementing the dairy with foods such as broccoli and almonds.
Although your loved one will still need to consume adequate amounts of protein, you may want to consider decreasing the red meat in his or her diet and replacing it with healthier options such as fish, poultry, and plant-based proteins such as beans. This will help reduce cholesterol and triglycerides and help minimize the chance of heart disease and other similar ailments.
Following a healthy diet is important to help your loved one live a long and happy life. A proper diet will affect the quality of his or her life and will help keep him or her fit, active, and happy. Use common sense when choosing foods and try to avoid foods with too much cholesterol or fat in them. Make sure that he or she is eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and be sure to regularly check his or her cholesterol, sodium, and triglyceride levels.
Helpguide.org (website). Nutrition and Diet Tips for Healthy Eating as You Age. Available at http://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/eating-well-as-you-age.htm
Kuriyama, S., Hozawa, A., Ohmori, K., Shimazu, T., Matsui T. et al. (2006). Green tea consumption and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study from the Tsurugaya Project 1. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(2):355-61. Available online at http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/83/2/355.full.