As we age, our bodies are unable to process certain types of vitamins and supplements as well as when we were younger. In addition, some vitamins and supplement can react badly in combination with prescription medicines. So you should always consult a physician before adding vitamins and supplements to your diet — that rule goes for young and old alike!
According to Dr. Marie Savard, when she appeared on Good Morning America, seniors of both genders often have diets poor in Vitamin B12, folic acid, Vitamin D and calcium. So supplements are a great way to boost those levels. However, there are also great foods that you can add that will help as well.
Foods rich in Vitamin B12 and folic acid include eggs, liver, dried beans, lentils, split peas, almonds, nuts, wholegrain breads, sweet potatoes, bananas, oranges, cabbage, spinach and asparagus. Foods rich in Vitamin D include almost every type of fish, milk, shitake mushrooms and eggs. Foods rich in calcium include cheese, yogurt, milk, dark leafy greens like spinach and kale, fortified orange juice, and enriched breads and grains.
Another concerns for seniors is degenerating eye health. The supplement lutein is present in multivitamins, but can be bolstered by diet as well. Lutein is found in green vegetables, especially spinach, kale and broccoli, as well as in egg yolks.
A common problem our caregivers at Angels for Life run into is that seniors have lost interest in preparing and cooking foods. Our licensed food handlers love to cook and prepare healthy, nutritious and tasty meals for our clients.
Did you know that popcorn has more healthy antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables? In fact, the hulls on popcorn actually have the highest concentration of polyphenols and fiber than almost anything else. The levels of polyphenols rivaled those in nuts and were up to 15 times greater than whole-grain tortilla chips. It’s also the only 100% unprocessed whole grain. One serving of popcorn will provide more than 70 percent of the daily intake of whole grain.
Like many other foods, you can damage the healthy goodness of popcorn by adding things that aren’t so good for you, like butter and salt. Air-popped popcorn has the lowest amount of calories and is best for you. At Angels for Life, we have found a brand we love called Skinny Pop Popcorn that has only 135 calories for 3.5 cups. We get it at AJs Fine Foods, but there is an 800 number you can call to find out where it is sold in your area: 1-888-5-POPCORN.
Of course, popcorn shouldn’t replace fresh fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and other nutrients important for good health that are missing from popcorn.
Among the other services offered by Angels for Life, we are licensed food handlers and can prepare healthy meals and snacks for our clients… especially for seniors. As we grow older, our appetite often decreases, so it is important to tempt the taste buds whenever possible. We like nothing better than popping a bowl of popcorn and sitting down to enjoy a movie with our clients!
Poor nutrition and malnutrition occur in 15 to 50 percent of the elderly population, and there are many causes for this including:
- Decline in the senses – the sense of taste and smell diminish and affect a person’s ability to enjoy food
- Medication — the side effects of medication can cause loss of appetite, cause nausea or make food unappetizing to the taste
- Dental Health — dental problems can make eating a chore
- Financial — fixed incomes often cause senior to skimp on meals or purchase cheaper, less nutritious options
- Shopping — lack of transportation may mean a senior is unable to get to the grocery store on a regular basis
- Physical Challenges — increasing frailty, injury or illness often make cooking extremely difficult for seniors
- Memory — diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s cause memory lapses so senior may forget to eat or forget when their last meal was
- Mental Health — depression is extremely common in the elderly and can decrease appetite
- Health conditions — diabetes, heart, weight, cholesterol can all affect the diets of seniors
For caregivers, there a few solutions to help combat these problems:
- Nutritious options — what food a senior does eat should be as nutritious as possible
- Tasty — enhance flavors with spices and herb to tempt the senior’s sense of smell and taste
- Social — make eating a social event so the senior associates food with a pleasant activity, with real plates and silverware, picnics, anything that makes the senior feel special
- Snacks — encourage healthy snacking throughout the day
- Dental — fix any dental problems
- Transportation — take the senior to the store or do the shopping for them
- Dietary plans — make sure the foods seniors eat fit in with their dietary needs (meal plans that include foods to help with diabetes, heart condition, high cholesterol to name just a few)
If, like many families, you are attempting to provide care for a loved one while juggling a busy work schedule and possibly growing children, an in-home care service like Angels for Life can be a welcome helping hand. Angels for Life works with post-operative patients, victims of accident or illness, respite patients and more and offers in-home, non-medical services like personal care, grocery shopping, meal preparation, light housekeeping, pet care, transportation to medical appointments and much more.