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Nutritional Drinks for Seniors and the Elderly

Hardly a commercial break during your favorite show goes by without an ad for some sort of nutritional drink. A humorous ad showing a hungover adult enjoying a children’s electrolyte drink comes to mind, along with numerous other drink options boasting tons of vitamins and minerals and essentially the answers to all your dietary problems.

Bad news first: no nutritional drink is the answer to all your dietary problems, no matter your age. But good news, too! There are some excellent nutritional drinks for seniors that can effectively supplement an elderly person’s diet and assist with some senior dietary challenges.

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Nutritional Drinks for Elderly

When it comes to narrowing down the plethora of nutrition supplement drinks for the elderly, the first step is identifying your needs. Perhaps your elderly loved one suffers from dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) and needs a drink that can function as a meal replacement for at least one meal per day so it is easier for them to eat. Perhaps they are trying to gain or maintain weight. Perhaps they need additional vitamins that they are not getting from their diet. Figuring out the need and then finding the drink that will meet that need is the key to navigating the world of nutritional drinks.

Protein Drinks for Seniors

If your elderly loved one is looking for a drink to use as a meal replacement, they want to look for something with at least 12 grams of protein. Often protein shakes of this nature come in a powdered form that can be mixed with water or milk (or a dairy-free option like almond milk) and there are several flavors from which to choose. A bonus with protein shakes for the elderly is that you can usually “sneak in” additional nutritional foods whose taste will be covered by the flavor of the shake - think flax seeds for fiber, or spinach for all the wonderful health benefits spinach provides. Shakes like these can be particularly helpful for seniors who don’t like or have difficulty eating solid foods.

An important note about protein shakes - read the contents carefully, and when in doubt, consult a doctor. Some shakes labeled “high in protein” are really designed to be consumed for muscle recovery after intense workouts, sometimes containing as much as 40 grams of protein. This is far too much protein for an elderly (or even average) person to use just to replace breakfast. Additionally, some nutritional drinks get a bit carried away and actually contain more vitamins and minerals than a senior really needs, which can have an adverse effect on a body unused to such supplements. Like any supplement, you add to a senior’s diet, read labels carefully, and consult a doctor if you are unsure whether something is safe.

Electrolyte Drinks for Elderly

If your senior loved one is anything like my mom (mom if you’re reading this, I definitely don’t think you’re old!) they may seriously hate drinking “plain water.” And yes, just drinking water certainly isn’t exciting or tasty. But staying hydrated is important, especially for the elderly. So looking for a drink high in electrolytes can be beneficial. Typically any drink that has ever been advertised as a sports drink will be high in electrolytes. Just double-check the sugar content - not all sports drinks are friendly to diabetics or anyone who doesn’t want a sugar overload.

Senior Grade, a website that provides reviews, comparisons, and shopping advice on the best products for seniors recently rounded up the Best Nutritional Drinks for Seniors. Their list is comprehensive, with descriptions of several brands of nutritional drinks for the elderly and the information you need and want about them - including taste!

As with any food or supplement you add to your senior loved one’s diet, read labels carefully and consult with a doctor or dietician if you have questions or uncertainties. But don’t be afraid to check some of the nutritional drinks out there and see if they can be beneficial.

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