How to Know if Your Loved One is Getting Proper Nutrition
As we age, it can become more and more difficult to get the nutrition we need for numerous reasons, but at the same time, it is not always easy to recognize the signs of malnutrition. Seniors who don’t eat properly are at risk for greater health concerns. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the most common signs for how to know if your loved one is getting proper nutrition…
Signs for How to Know if Your Loved One is Getting Proper Nutrition
Physical Disabilities – If your loved one is not physically able to shop, cook or feed him or herself, then a close watch should be kept over your loved one to make sure they are getting enough nutritious foods.
Weight Change – If your loved one has lost or gained 10 or more pounds in the past 6 months, there could be an issue that you need to look into.
Recent Illness – If your loved one has experienced a recent illness or condition that caused him or her to change the kind of foods or the amounts of foods he or she eats, it could become difficult to get back to better eating habits.
Financial Difficulties – If your loved one has a food budget that doesn’t allow for nutritious foods, which are often more expensive, it is likely that he or she is malnourished.
Energy – If your loved one typically is active but suddenly has a lack of energy, it’s worth looking into whether malnutrition is to blame.
Whole Foods – Is your loved one eating whole foods like fruits and vegetables at every meal? If not, he or she probably isn’t getting all of the vitamins and minerals necessary for their health.
Salt & Sugar – Is your loved one using too much salt and sugar because their taste buds aren’t working as well as they used to and they think all of their food tastes bland? Better choices for adding more flavor to their meals includes herbs, spices, lemon juice and vinegar.
Teeth or Mouth Issues – If your loved one has any problems with their teeth or mouth, they might not be eating properly.
Medications – If your loved one takes three or more medications (whether they are prescribed or over-the-counter), it is possible that they are not eating properly. This is due to the fact that many medications interfere with appetite and some cause nausea.
Appetite – If your loved one is eating less than two meals per day, it is highly likely that he or she is not getting adequate nutrition.
Expired Foods – Check the refrigerator often for expired or spoiled food, and when possible, label all food with the date to avoid the potential of your loved one eating something that is no longer safe.
Dementia – If your loved one suffers from dementia and other cognitive issues, he or she might forget to eat.
If you have noticed any of these warning signs, it is important that you discuss it with your loved one’s physician to develop a plan as to how to ensure they are getting proper nutrition.
What is the Proper Nutrition for Seniors?
Since our nutritional needs differ as we age, Tufts University has put together diet recommendations for seniors based on MyPlate recommendations that were put together by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The recommendations are as follows:
- Half of the plate consists of a variety of fruits and vegetables, which can include fresh as well as low-sodium, low-sugar canned fruits and vegetables since they are often easier for seniors to prepare and chew.
- Another quarter of the plate consists of whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, cereals and brown rice.
- The other quarter consists of mostly proteins, such as poultry, fish, beans, nuts and eggs, as well as a very small amount of dairy.
- The center of the plate contains oils.