Strategies to Improve Nutrition in Older Adults

By Pete Lane, 8:00 am on

When seniors are having trouble getting enough nutrition, the first step in correcting the problem is to pinpoint the causes that are contributing to an inadequate intake of food. Today, Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Centennial senior home care, is going to share some of the most common reasons for malnutrition in the older population, as well as strategies for how to overcome these barriers and promote optimal health.

First, let’s look at the factors that can cause malnutrition in the older population. Your aging parent or loved one may be experiencing one or more of the following:

  • Decreased sense of taste and smell
  • Appetite loss
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Lack of transportation
  • Financial problems

The following strategies can be used to overcome any or all of the above problems:

  • Encourage your loved one to eat natural, colorful foods. A natural diet that is varied in vibrant colors is indicative of foods that are nutrient rich. Fruits and vegetables that are deep green, bright red, orange and yellow, and dark purple are good choices when looking for foods that are high in vitamins.
  • Help prepare small, frequent meals. If a diminished appetite is affecting nutrition, seniors can try eating six small meals during the day instead of three traditional meals. A plate with a smaller amount of food can seem less overwhelming and more palatable than a larger meal.
  • Add healthy calories. If adequate calorie intake is a problem, nutrient rich pre-made shakes can be found on pharmacy shelves. These are especially helpful when chewing becomes a problem. Other easy, ready-to-eat snacks that are healthy, fulfilling and calorie rich include nuts, frozen yogurt, all-natural peanut butter, avocado, and trail mix with whole wheat granola.
  • Make calories count. When seniors have decreased appetites, it is important not to allow them to get filled up on foods and drinks that lack nutritional value. Drinking coffee, tea and other beverages can create a feeling of fullness that takes the important place of healthy foods.
  • Make food more flavorful. Older adults may feel less hungry when the senses of smell and taste have diminished. Adding extra spices to food can make food taste better and increase the appetite.
  • Find assistance locally. Sometimes older adults no longer have enough resources to buy healthy foods. Programs like meals on wheels and other groups will deliver meals to homes of seniors to ensure that they are getting enough to eat. For seniors who may need help getting to and from the grocery store safely, part-time caregivers are also available to provide reliable transportation to areas throughout Centennial and the South Metro Denver area.

If you have an aging parent or loved one who may not be getting the nutrients they need for a healthy lifestyle, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Centennial today and learn how our hourly and live-in caregivers are helping seniors prepare and enjoy healthy, nutritious and delicious foods. For more information, call 303-957-3100 and speak with a friendly Care Manager today.