How to Help Your Senior Loved One Stick to a Nutrition Plan

How to Help Your Senior Loved One Stick to a Nutrition Plan

Proper nutrition in older adults can be important for their overall health and wellness. Many seniors are instructed by their physicians to follow specialized diets to meet changing nutritional needs or treat certain medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure, and coronary artery disease. With your help, your senior loved one can succeed on a diet focused on good nutrition.

Why Are Senior Nutrition Plans Hard to Follow?

Seniors can oppose or have difficulties with specialized diets for the following reasons:

  • Physical changes
    It’s no secret aging changes the way the body works. Seniors tend to have slower metabolisms, and they exercise less than younger people. This means senior nutrition plans should include fewer calories and more nutrient-rich foods. Taste buds, a sense of thirst, and the digestive system also change with age, which can lead seniors to eat more salt, risk becoming dehydrated, and experience more difficulty absorbing nutrients. Additionally, the elderly can have difficulty chewing or swallowing food and may take certain medications that decrease appetite.
  • Memory problems
    Seniors with memory issues may be uniquely challenged by a diet. For example, some elderly people may not remember if they’ve eaten and could overeat or not eat enough as a result. Seniors with more advanced memory impairments may even forget they have a diet to follow. This can be dangerous, particularly if your loved one has a condition such as diabetes or congestive heart failure that can exacerbate by eating the wrong foods.
  • Emotional health
    If your loved one has been given a new dietary plan that eliminates or limits certain foods, they may be unmotivated to follow instructions. Changes to home routines, such as suddenly living alone, can also cause anxiety or depression and throw a wrench into your loved one’s dietary plan. It may be difficult for seniors to motivate themselves to cook and eat meals alone or shop for the right dietary foods.

How Can Non-Medical Home Care Help?

Changing lifetime habits can feel overwhelming, especially for older adults. While you should encourage your senior loved one to follow a doctor’s advice on proper nutrition, it can be a challenge. At the end of the day, your loved one is ultimately the one who will decide if he or she will follow a diet. Ask your loved one’s physician how you can help and do your best to provide support and encouragement. Try to avoid making your loved one feel like you’re taking away their choices and independence.

If your loved one needs additional support to stick to their nutrition plan, Visiting Angels can help. Our non-medical home care professionals understand seniors have different nutritional needs and unique challenges. Non-medical home care can help your elderly loved one meet nutritional needs by providing:

  • Companionship
    Non-medical home care professionals are a trusted presence in many seniors’ lives. They can encourage seniors to try new foods and can help your loved one adjust to a new diet more quickly. And because eating is often a social activity, having someone to sit down with and enjoy a meal can help older adults look forward to eating.
  • Encouragement
    For seniors with memory difficulty, non-medical caregivers can often provide the reminders your loved one needs to stick to a nutrition plan. Whether it’s suggesting your loved one have a drink of water, reminding them it’s time to eat, asking if they’ve taken their dietary supplements, or helping them stick to the specific guidelines of their diet, an at-home caregiver is someone you can lean upon to care for your loved one.
  • Help around the home
    Non-medical home care staff are available to help your senior loved one purchase the right foods and assist with meal preparation and cooking. For seniors who have mobility impairments or other conditions that affect their ability to cook or grocery shop, this type of non-medical home care can be especially important.

Following a healthy nutrition plan can be hard, but with the right support, your loved one will benefit from proper senior nutrition.

If you're interested in more information about how in-home care can help your senior loved ones, contact your nearest Visiting Angels office today or call 800-365-4189.
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