We have heard it a million times – a good diet and an active lifestyle that includes some exercise are key predictors for living a longer, more independent life. Caregivers help seniors maintain healthy habits by offering proper nutrition, encouraging exercise, and promoting healthy lifestyle habits.
Caregivers Can Help Seniors Build Healthy Menus
It is critical for seniors to practice proper nutrition. Poor nutrition affects the body, the mind, and energy levels, possibly leading to further health issues. The more caregivers know about offering healthy foods for seniors, the better care they can offer. While older adults typically need fewer calories, they need more nutritious foods because our bodies are less efficient at making or absorbing specific vitamins and minerals as we age.
So, what should you be eating once you are 50 or older? This simple guide will help you build your plate from the ground up with foods that are packed with essential nutrients for seniors.
Mineral and Vitamin Intake Guidelines for Seniors
As a person ages, some nutrients become more important:
- Fiber to stay regular
- Potassium for blood pressure and to help avoid fatigue and depression
- Healthy fats to lower chances of heart disease
- Vitamin B12 for energy and brain function
- Vitamin D and Calcium for bone health
Tips for Making Mealtimes and Snacks a Snap:
- If the person has a hard time using a knife and fork, serve finger foods. For example, try bite-sized pieces of sandwich, meat, or cut-up fruit or veggies.
- Serve one or two foods at a time. Too many choices can be overwhelming.
- If chewing or swallowing is a problem, mash, puree, or moisten foods with broth, sauce, or milk.
- Add flavor to meals with spices and herbs.
- Put out bowls of nuts and fruit to encourage snacking.
- Serve nutritional supplement drinks or smoothies with protein powder and fruits.
How Caregivers Can Help Seniors Stay Active As They Age
Did you know that one of the many vital services caregivers provide for seniors is workout partner? 60 % of people age 64 and older are sedentary. Furthermore, AARP found that 40% of people between 45 and 64 are considered sedentary. Staying active has a multitude of benefits for older adults. Here are just a few:
Increases Mental Capacity: Research links physical activity with slower mental decline. This is because exercise increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including our brain.
Prevents Disease: Exercise is beneficial in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It can also delay or prevent many diseases associated with aging, such as diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and more.
Improves Healing: Injuries can take longer to heal as people age. However, regular exercise may speed up the wound-healing process by as much as 25 percent.
Increases balance: Exercise can help improve balance, which can help prevent falls. Falls are a significant cause of broken hips and other injuries that often lead to disability and hospitalization in older adults.
Tips for caregivers to help encourage seniors to become more active:
- Find something they enjoy doing.
- Make sure it is geared to their fitness level.
- Start slowly, at a level they can manage, and work their way up.
- Do exercises at home with them. You can rent videos at the library and modify them as necessary.
A Sample Monthly Exercise Routine for Seniors:
Home Care Tip:
Many seniors will not want to grocery shop alone or cook food for just themselves. We suggest working grocery shopping into your time together and help to prep meals so they can quickly and easily prepare a meal for one on their own.