Have you even worried that your mother or grandmother may not be eating properly or eating enough? Many seniors may not have access to food stores and many find the task of food preparation too daunting. This can result in older people often eating food that is nutritionally poor, and can even result in skipping meals.
There are currently 35 million people in America over the age of 65. This figure is rising at a rate of 12 percent per year.
| Are you concerned about whether an older parent or relative is eating right?
| Yes, very much so.
Not at all.
Sometimes I'm concerned.
Older adults require the same nutrients as younger people, but just in different amounts. Many older people don't have the same drive for thirst as younger people and therefore need to make a point of consuming enough fluids.
As we age, we don't need as much energy in the form of calories. Our bodies work at a slower rate as we age and many seniors find that they lead less active lives as they get older. According to the American Dietetic Association, older adults require about 1600 calories per day, which is about 400 less than the requirement for an average person.
Older adults need at least five ounces of protein each day. Often because they have dental problems or limited incomes, it is difficult for seniors to get enough protein. Seniors should choose tender cuts of meat and should have their teeth or dentures checked regularly. Easy to eat and prepare dairy products, like yogurt and cottage cheese, should also be a regular part of the diet.
Keeping Bones Strong
As people age, calcium needs increase by 20 percent and the risk of osteoporosis increases as well. Women and men over the age of 50 should consume at least 1200 milligrams of calcium each day. Dairy products, as well as dark leafy greens like kale, calcium fortified fruit juices and soymilk, and fortified cereals are all good sources of calcium. Regular weight-bearing exercise, like walking and tennis will help keep bones strong. Just like other people, seniors should aim for 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
The Iron and Vitamin C Connection
Aging often leads to iron-deficiency anemia, which causes fatigue, weakness and poor health. Making sure you eat vitamin C-rich foods when you eat iron-rich foods will help boost absorption of iron. Seniors should eat enough beans, whole grains, lean meat and poultry and iron-enriched cereals. Eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as small glasses of juice with meals, will help boost the body's ability to use iron.
You can help keep your loved ones healthy by making sure they have access to nutritious foods. Inviting them to share dinner with you and your family is another great way to foster healthy eating. Just like everyone else, older adults enjoy food most when it's shared with friends and family.