NJ Senior Care Blog

National Nutrition Month: Healthy Eating for Seniors

March is National Nutrition Month. To celebrate this important health initiative, we’re examining some of the most important nutrition choices for seniors. 

As we age, it can become challenging to purchase and prepare healthy foods for ourselves. Many seniors resort to prepackaged and processed meals that are high in saturated fats and sodium, mostly because cooking is too physically or mentally challenging. Others don’t have access to reliable transportation to go grocery shopping to find healthy foods. 

Visiting Angels of Mercer and Burlington Counties is interested in helping seniors choose and prepare delicious, healthy meals. Check out this list of the most important dietary staples for seniors. 

Foods with Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that allows the body to absorb calcium and helps maintain bone health. Without vitamin D, the bones become fragile and brittle. 

For seniors, vitamin D is especially important. Seniors with fragile bones are more likely to experience severe bone fractures when they fall. They also have trouble recovering 

The body becomes less efficient at absorbing Vitamin D as a person ages. Additionally, many older people have mobility issues that keep them inside and prevent them obtaining vitamin-D-rich foods. As a result, vitamin D deficiency is extremely common in people over the age of 65. 

For seniors, it is vital to combine sunlight exposure and diet to get an adequate amount of vitamin D, since seniors absorb far less vitamin D from sunlight than younger people do. 

Foods that are rich in Vitamin D:

  •  Salmon
  •  Egg yolks
  • Fortified cereals
  • Margarine
  • Orange juice
  • Fortified yogurts
  • Lean meats like beef

Additionally, many dairy products containing milk and cheese are also good sources of Vitamin D. 

Foods with Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 helps keep blood cells and nerves healthy and even plays a role in the production of DNA. It is especially important for seniors, who often can’t absorb the same amount of B12 from food as younger people do. Unfortunately, the symptoms of B12 deficiency (like fatigue, memory loss, and difficulty moving) are often mistaken for symptoms of other illnesses that are common in older people. Seniors who have had weight loss surgery or who are vegetarian are especially prone to B12 deficiency. 

If you’re concerned about B12 deficiency, consider adding the following foods to your diet:

  •  Salmon 
  • Beef
  • Egg yolks
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese)
  • Fortified cereals

Talk to your doctor to learn more about B12-rich foods and how to get more B12 into your diet. 

Foods High in Fiber

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that can’t be digested and therefore is not broken down into sugar. In fact, fiber helps the body regulate blood sugar levels. Fiber helps regulate the digestive tract and bowels and may even lower the risk of colorectal cancer. 

Additionally, fiber can help you control cholesterol levels, maintain a healthy weight, and even help you live longer by lowering your risk of heart disease. 

In general, men should aim to eat around 30 grams of fiber each day, while women should try to eat around 25 grams. 

Foods that are loaded with fiber:

  •  Leafy greens (turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach)
  • Fresh fruits (raspberries, pears, apples, bananas)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots)
  • Whole-wheat noodles
  • Quinoa
  • Bran
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Rye bread

Many seniors find it difficult to eat enough fruits and vegetables to stay regular. Fortunately, there are fiber supplements that may help each constipation and digestive distress. These supplements don’t offer the vitamins and nutrients that fiber-rich foods do, but there is no evidence that taking a fiber supplement each day is harmful. 

How Can Home Care Services Help Seniors With Nutrition?

Many seniors are homebound, have mobility issues, or simply find it difficult to cook. As a result, they rely on prepackaged foods and sporadic visits from senior meal services for their nutrition. An in-home caregiver can help alleviate the stress and uncertainty many seniors experience when trying to maintain proper nutrition. 

If you or someone you know is interested in companion care in Burlington or Mercer Counties in New Jersey, contact Visiting Angels--a fully-accredited personal care services company.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.