Eating Healthily In Old Age (guest post)
It is estimated that by 2031 23% of the population will be over the age of 65, and 10% of these people will be over 75.
It is more important that the elderly eat healthy, balanced meals, now more than ever. Having worked with the elderly for some years I know that not every elderly person has a massive appetite and not many are willing to try new, “more modern food”.
Three strong meals a day are needed to keep energy levels up. A good breakfast of wholegrain cereals or fruit, with a juice drink and a cup of tea are great. Lunch can be light for those with a small appetite. A cold meat sandwich and a slice of cake, then dinner can be perhaps a nice Sheppard’s pie or liver and onions. We all need food that is full of nutritional benefits to protect us from illness or to keep our bodies working as they are. This is so much more important for the elderly. If they live alone and have to cook for themselves, try to make things easier such as microwave meals. Some are specially designed to help get all the important nutrients they need.
Fibre is a very important part of your diet no matter what age, and when you are elderly it is even more so important. Fibre in your diet can help relieve constipation and bowel problems. These problems are common the older we get as our movement and mobility is restricted and exercise lessens.
Taking extra trips to the toilet might not seem practical in old age but fluid intake needs to be kept high as dehydration can cause confusion and drowsiness and if you are suffering from dementia dehydration can exaggerate symptoms. Fluid also helps brain activity and the older you get the more you have to work to keep your mind as sharp as it can be. Older people are not as sensitive to the sensation of thirst as we are, so keeping the elderly topped up with fluid is extremely important, especially on a hot summers day. Many elderly people lose their lives during summer months due to dehydration. If certain medical conditions mean that you suffer from loose stools or reoccurring bouts of diarrhoea then you soon can become dehydrated. Water is not just the only form of fluid intake but cups of tea and fruit squashes are also great for keeping hydrated.
Quick and nourishing snacks that are easy and simple to make include lunches like sandwiches that contain meats and salad or even tinned fish. Diet should be nutritious and contain a lot of iron to prevent anaemia if certain drugs or illnesses cause blood loss. Good sources of Iron are found in red meat and leafy green vegetables.
If an elderly person suffers from pressure sores due to immobility or being bed bound then Zinc should be added to a diet as this aids the healing process. Great sources of Zinc are pork chops, chicken breast or wholemeal bread.
The elderly can suffer from swallowing problems such as dysphagia as the result of conditions such as a stroke. Foods therefore needs adapting. Soups or liquidized dinners are great, nothing containing large lumps or food that needs chewing.
As the elderly population rises it is important that we help our most vulnerable to keep healthy and most importantly, happy.
Hazel worked in care for over 7 years, but is now a full time mother and content writer. This article was written on behalf of Oakhouse Foods, who provide healthy, frozen meals on wheels services, as well as daily, fresh grocery deliveries to your home.