Nutrition for Seniors

Nutrition for Seniors

Common Nutrition Problems in Seniors and How To Prevent Them

In your senior years, you may have trouble getting proper nourishment. Your body may be low on vitamins and minerals or may not be getting the types of fuel it needs to be at its best.

In your senior years, you may have trouble getting proper nourishment. Your body may be low on vitamins and minerals or may not be getting the types of fuel it needs to be at its best.

There are many reasons, including:

  • Depression. When you are depressed, you may not eat well or lose your appetite.
  • Suddenly being single. You may have depended on your spouse for making meals. You may lack the skills to cook or the interest if you are used to cooking for two.
  • Illness. You may not have much of an appetite – or physical problems may make it difficult to get out to the store or cook for yourself.
  • Medication. Some can suppress appetite, change your sense of taste, make you feel sick or vomit, or interfere with how food is broken down.
  • Malabsorption. Your body may not be able to absorb certain supplements the way it used to. These include vitamin B12, folate, and even calcium and iron.
  • Chewing and swallowing. Dental problems can affect eating. Certain medications can make it hard to swallow. Dry mouth, which can be a side effect of medication, can also cause poor swallowing.
  • Poor taste and smell. Aging makes your sense of taste and smell less sharp. This makes you less likely to eat right. Medications can also affect your sense of taste.
  • Special diets. You may have been told by your doctor to limit salt and fat. This may mean you eat less.
  • Not having enough money. Some people on limited budgets may have to choose between expensive medications and food.

If you can’t chew, try foods such as:

  • 100 percent fruit juice
  • Soft canned fruits (applesauce, peaches and pears)
  • Vegetable juices
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Ground turkey and chicken
  • Yogurt and soft cheeses
  • Cooked cereals and oatmeal
  • Brown rice

If your stomach is upset, try these:

  • Milk-based foods, such as yogurt and cheese.
  • Vegetable juices
  • Green beans, carrots and potatoes
  • 100 percent fruit juices and soft-canned fruits.

If you are short on money:

  • Buy low-cost foods, such as dried beans, peas, rice and pasta. Choose store-brand items. Use coupons.
  • See if a church group or other community service offers free or low-cost meals.
  • Get food stamps. Look in the phonebook’s blue pages.
  • Call your local government about group nutrition services, which are gatherings of seniors to share a meal. Your local government can also tell you about home-delivered meals.

If you don’t have an appetite:

  • Tell your doctor. This could be a side effect of medication or a sign of a serious condition.
  • Change the flavor of your foods by adding spices and herbs.
  • Plan snacks for your day and carry granola bars or pieces of fruit.

If you can’t cook or shop for yourself:

  • Ask about home-delivered meals.
  • Share your home. Consider a roommate who will can go to the store and cook for you in exchange for low rent.
  • Hire someone – such as a neighbor – who can do the shopping and meals for you.

If you are suddenly single:

  • See if family members or friends can gather for regular potluck dinners.
  • Invite other seniors to your home.
  • Eat out regularly with friends and family.

Talk to your doctor if you feel sick or don’t have an appetite. If you think you are depressed, talk with your doctor. Depression is treatable.

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