Daily food choices are vital to good health, but when the elderly are dependent on family caregivers, senior care aides and others to assist with grocery shopping and meal preparations, they often don’t get much of a say in what they eat.
As a family caregiver that is responsible for this important feature of elderly care, food choices are extremely important to ensuring the health and wellness of your aging loved one. Nutrient-dense foods are the best way to deliver valuable nutritional elements to the body, so take the time to revise your shopping list to include the best options.
Fruit with dark colors tend to be the most nutrient-dense, like blueberries, blackberries, grapefruit, strawberries and oranges. Serve them whole, sliced or even pureed as a snack, side dish, salad topper or in a healthy smoothie. If you are tempted to purchase fruit juice instead of whole fruits, remember that the natural fibers are important for your elderly loved one’s health as well.
Seniors need several servings of vegetables per day, and in a variety of colors, too. The most nutrient-dense veggies are dark green, including broccoli, kale and spinach. Other nutrient-dense vegetables are peas, tomatoes, green and red peppers, carrots, green beans and Brussels sprouts. Whether served on their own or mixed in to other dishes like soups and casseroles, adding nutrient-dense vegetables are a good way for seniors to get valuable vitamins and minerals.
Most people nowadays understand the health benefits of low-fat dairy products, but many seniors that were raised on whole milk or 2 percent milk may resist lower-fat options. Dairy foods are among the most nutrient-dense and experts recommend at least three servings per day. Top contenders for delivering healthy nutrients include yogurt, milk and various cheeses. Dairy food is ideal for seniors that need a quick and filling snack.
Meat and Protein
Lean meats with the highest protein to calorie ratio include fish like tuna, salmon and halibut, as well as chicken, turkey and pork chops. Other food that delivers lots of protein includes tofu, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds. While the occasional high fat meat, like ground beef, is fine, the majority of protein sources for seniors should come from leaner cuts and alternative protein sources.
While water isn’t really a nutrient-dense food, it is essential for helping a senior’s body to achieve maximum health. Too many seniors avoid drinking much because they might worry about bathroom issues, but too little water can mean lots of health problems. Besides plain water, seniors can enjoy flavored water, tea and the occasional fruit juice to add to their water intake.
Most people think of wheat bread versus white bread when it comes to nutrient-dense grains, but there are a number of very healthy whole grains out there to consider. The healthiest grains to include in a senior’s diet are whole rye, quinoa, oats, millet, brown rice, barley and buckwheat. In addition to bread, you can find whole grains in pancake mixes, pasta and other baked goods.
Because seniors may not eat as much as they once did, or may be growing more particular about what foods they will eat, it’s up to you to make every meal as nutritious as possible. Choosing nutrient-dense foods and ingredients over less healthy options will enable your elderly loved one to enjoy better health overall and resist illnesses better. With the help and support of other family members, senior care assistants, friends and community groups, your aging loved one can get the nutrients they need to thrive.
If you or a family member are in need of senior care in Aventura, FL, call the caring professionals at Star Multi Care today at (954) 870-4770. Providing service in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Weston, Southwest Ranches, Pembroke Pines, Cooper City, Lighthouse Point, and Wilton Manors.