With Americans living longer thanks to advances in medicine and other factors, it is still possible to positively affect the quality of life in your later years by eating healthy. It is vital to maintain a well-balanced diet as you age but is critical to those suffering from chronic symptoms such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. According to the National Resource Center on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging, 1 in 4 older Americans has poor nutrition. Malnutrition can leave our aging loved ones vulnerable to chronic health issues and disease. In addition, older adults who live alone may not take the time to prepare and eat healthy, balanced meals. Home care services can help through meal preparation for those who cannot cook for themselves or need assistance creating and sticking to a balanced diet.
We know that eating right is essential for our overall health, but for seniors, this can be easier said than done. As you age, your body changes, and so should your food habits. Aging causes the metabolism to slow, leading to fewer calories needed per day. The elderly often experience a loss in appetite and a diminishing sense of taste and smell, causing them to skip meals and eat less. Enough calories and nutrients must be consumed to maintain good health and ward off problems. Your doctor may even recommend a change in diet to prevent or treat health issues. Medications taken for chronic health issues can also interact with nutritional supplements or certain foods and even cause a lack of appetite. It is important to check with your physician before making any dietary changes.
Having a strategy to maintain your health is vital. Of course, Mom was right when she said, “Eat your vegetables.” One approach is to use the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate as your guide when preparing meals. Simply, it says to make half your plate vegetables or fruit, a quarter of your plate whole grains such as wheat bread or rice, and the other quarter a lean protein such as fish or eggs. Most seniors have a heartier appetite at breakfast; a good example for breakfast could be soft-boiled eggs, wheat toast, and a fruit salad. Sounds pretty good, right?
Focusing on nutrient-dense foods that are lower in calories is a great place to start. For example, nuts are a good source of healthy fats and fiber, both critical diet components as we age. Nuts can be incorporated into the main dish or a healthy snack but be careful of the salt component. Other sources of nutrient-dense foods are beans, lentils, and low-fat dairy. Talk to your healthcare provider about the right mix of vitamins and nutrients to accommodate unique needs.
As for fiber, there are plenty of good supplements available, but fiber can also be found naturally in whole grain bread, beans, and legumes. When adding fiber to a diet, be sure also to add plenty of fluids to help the body adjust to this change. Avoiding processed or even restaurant-cooked meals is the best way to get the most nutrition in any diet plan. Sodium can also be a big problem with packaged and carry-out meals.
There is a little-known benefit for aging wartime veterans and surviving spouses, Pension with Aid and Attendance, that can help pay for home care services to assist with dietary needs. Veterans Care Coordination works to get you access to your Pension with Aid and Attendance Benefit. Home care assistance can help support a healthy lifestyle for our aging loved ones by preparing meals that include plenty of nutritious options, helping seniors stay healthy and fight off infections. Caregiver’s can prepare and freeze meals ahead of time and will also help with other chores such as light housekeeping, rides to appointments, or additional assistance depending on your specific situation.
Good health is critical to living a long, productive life, and proper nutrition can make a huge difference in how we feel as we get older. Following a healthy meal plan is necessary at all ages but especially during the golden years. While home care services can support a healthy lifestyle, pride can stop aging seniors—especially Veterans—from asking for help even when it’s needed. Home care can help ensure that our Veterans and all elderly are cared for with the respect they deserve.
Our partner providers join Veterans Care Coordination’s in the mission to improve the quality of life for Veterans and their families. We partner with quality home care providers to help navigate the VA’s application process for pension funds and help to maximize VA pension funds and get care started as quickly as possible.