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Good health is key to enjoying a long and happy life. As English critic and essayist Leigh Hunt stated, “The groundwork for all happiness is good health.” As people age, their nutritional needs change, but unfortunately, many older adults don’t eat as well as they should. So, family members and caregivers need to pay attention to the dietary needs of seniors and for seniors to use good health and nutrition practices themselves. 

Why is Good Nutrition Important for Older Adults? 

Good nutrition is described as eating a healthy and balanced diet so your body gets the important nutrients needed to function properly. Those nutrients include proteins, minerals, vitamins, fats, carbohydrates, and water. Good nutrition gives a person energy. It helps control one’s weight. It helps to prevent diseases including high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and some types of cancers. The dietary needs of seniors should be guided by good nutrition planning.

How Do Nutritional Needs Change for Seniors? 

First, people will need fewer calories to maintain proper weight as they age. Consuming more calories than an older body will burn leads to weight gain. Second, an older person can experience less energy and more muscle or joint problems. Many older adults experience a decreased appetite with age. They may also see a diminished sense of taste and smell. These things can lead to eating less than necessary to properly fuel their body. Aging causes a person to be more susceptible to chronic health problems, which may require a change of diet. Some older adults become sensitive to foods like onions, peppers, and spicy foods, so those items may need to be cut out of the diet. Medications may need to be taken for health problems that can affect one’s appetite. A person’s immune system weakens with age, so food safety becomes increasingly important. All of these highlight the importance of wisely monitoring and managing the dietary needs of seniors. 

Dietary Needs of Seniors–Healthy Eating Tips  

Consider these healthy eating tips to meet the dietary needs of seniors: 

  1. Eat more whole foods and limit processed foods. Whole foods include fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, nuts and beans, whole grains, eggs, and plain yogurt. Processed foods include frozen pizzas, soda and sugary drinks, instant coffee, and packaged snacks like chips, crackers, and pretzels, just to name a few. 
  2. Create a healthy eating meal plan ahead of each meal. 
  3. Drink water with each meal and drink plenty of water during each day. 
  4. Get enough protein to prevent muscle loss. 
  5. Eat fiber-rich foods like bananas, black beans, apples, quinoa, cabbage, and almonds. 
  6. Reduce the intake of sodium.  
  7. Eat less fat. 
  8. Limit intake of sugars. 

What if You Have Trouble Eating Healthy? 

The dietary needs of seniors may need to change to improve healthy eating habits. It is also important to use other means to have healthy living practices.

Get Professional Home Care for Your Loved Ones 

Contact Caring Healthcare in Columbia, SC. Whether you need home healthcare for an aging family member, a special needs child, or extra help for another family member, we are here for you. Our compassionate and courteous in-home care aides are extensively screened and experienced in providing routine personal care, transportation, supervision, and companionship for our clients. We offer flexible care options.