Healthy Eating for the ElderlyTo celebrate National Nutrition Month® — a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics — Griswold is dedicating this week’s blog posts to mindful munching. Use this information to help your loved one eat well in the month of March and beyond. 

Healthy eating is important for everyone, obviously, but it’s especially important for the elderly population due to the following physical and lifestylechanges:

  • Metabolism – Each year after forty, the metabolism slows. This means that the amount, and even types, of food your loved one needs is different than what he or she may be used to.
    • Tip: Visit the doctor together and get a professional opinion on your loved one’s caloric needs.
  • Senses – Taste and smell diminish with age, which results in decreased sensitivity to salty and bitter foods. This often causes seniors to overuse table salt, when in reality they require less sodium than younger people.
    • Tip: Replace salt with herbs and healthy oils, like olive oil.
  • Medicines & Illnesses – Prescription medications and illnesses are not only known to inhibit appetite, but oftentimes, they also hinder the ability to taste food. Once again, this leads to over-salting or even consuming too much sugar to compensate for lack of taste.
    • Tip: Replace sugar with naturally sweet foods, like fruit, peppers or yams.
  • Digestion – With age comes a slowing digestive system, which means less saliva and stomach acid are generated. This, in turn, makes it more difficult for the elderly body to process certain vitamins and minerals, such as B12, B6 and folic acids — necessary to maintain mental alertness, a keen memory and good circulation.
    • Tip: Make sure your loved one is getting enough fiber and talk to the doctor about supplements.
  • Isolation – As we talked about in previous blog posts, isolation is common in the elderly. It’s crucial to prevent isolation and keep your loved one socially engaged — which we blogged about in three other posts — because loneliness and depression are not conducive to a healthy, balanced diet. This goes for anyone — feeling down often leads to either under or overeating.
    • Tips: Read the linked posts!

Subscribe to the Griswold Blog or check back soon for our next post on mindful munching, which is all about making eating social and fun for your loved one.

How does your loved one keep a healthy diet? Let us know in the comments below.