Many older adults don’t get enough vitamins and minerals in their diets. As a caregiver, you can help plan balanced meals rich in the things your loved one needs.
Top Nutrients for Older Adults
As a person ages, some nutrients become more important:
- Calcium and vitamin D for bone health
- Fiber to stay regular
- Potassium for blood pressure and to help avoid fatigue and depression
- Vitamin B12 for energy and brain function
- Healthy fats to lower chances of heart disease
Easy Ways to Eat Healthy
Making healthy meals doesn't have to mean you weigh and measure everything. Serve a variety of foods. Cover half of the plate with fruits and vegetables, a quarter with lean protein, and a quarter with whole grains.
Also try to:
Serve bright-colored vegetables like broccoli, leafy greens, and carrots, and deep-colored fruits like berries and peaches.
Offer plenty of low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt, or cheese fortified with vitamin D. Shoot for two to three servings a day.
Cook with less salt, which can affect blood pressure.
Eat a variety of proteins, like fish, beans, and tofu.
Offer about 6 servings of grains each day. Half of these should be whole-grain cereal, bread, crackers, rice, or pasta. One slice of bread, 1/2 cup of pasta, and 1/2 cup of cereal are examples of a serving. Take extra time to check the fiber on nutrition labels, and make sure he or she is getting enough.
Cook with vegetable oils instead of solid fats like butter.
The Importance of Water for Seniors
Make hydration a priority every day. Getting dehydrated can cause things like confusion and memory loss. Ask the doctor how much water the person you're caring for should be drinking every day, and keep track of how much they drink each day.
If he is not drinking as much as the doctor says, then offer small cups of water or other fluid throughout the day. Also offer foods that have a lot of water, like fruit, soup, or smoothies. Some older people may not feel thirsty until they are almost dehydrated.