National Nutrition Month – Home Care and NutritionApril 6, 2021
National Nutrition Month – Home Care and Nutrition: Senior care can help elderly people living at-home with myriad issues, from personal care to laundry. But one of the most important ways a home care aide can help a senior live independently is with assistance with nutrition. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has declared March National Nutrition Month, emphasizing how making better food choices can impact your health. The monthlong campaign, titled “Personalize Your Plate,” provides ways people can eat healthier, such as:
- Learn how to read nutrition fact panels
- Avoid distractions while eating
- Better meal planning
- Consult a nutritionist
People who are looking to make significant changes to their diet should consult their medical professional, especially seniors with medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes (LINK), or heart disease.
Seniors and Nutrition
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created a special version of its “MyPlate” program for seniors, recognizing that seniors who live at home have different nutritional needs that can be addressed. For example, a focus on certain nutrients such as Vitamin B12, Calcium and Vitamin D can address health challenges faced by seniors.
Additionally, there are other considerations for seniors to take into account. Seniors with arthritis or who have lost strength in their hands may have difficulty cutting up fruit or vegetables, in which case consider pre-sliced options. Also, certain medications can interfere with appetite, which can lead to seniors not getting enough of the right kind of nutrition. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has a more extensive list of nutrients that are important for seniors to include in their diets.
Home Care and Seniors’ Nutrition
Seniors who live at home may have a difficult time maintaining proper nutrition, especially if the senior is living alone. Cooking healthy meals can be a lot of work for one person, and shopping for one person can be difficult.
As a result, many seniors resort to unhealthy options such as frozen dinners (which are often very high in sodium). Having an in-home care aide help with grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation can help seniors maintain a healthy diet. A senior home care aide can help with many nutrition related tasks such as:
- Planning meals. One of the most important ways to keep a healthy diet is to plan meals in advance, whether it’s a few days in advance or an entire week at a time. Planning meals makes it easier to stay focused on healthy foods rather than “settling” for something quick and easy.
- Shopping for groceries. Grocery shopping is a chore at any age, but it can be especially difficult for seniors, in particular if they have difficulty with things like bending over to reach lower shelves or lift items out of their shopping cart.
- Preparing and cooking meals. Cooking can be difficult, especially for seniors with mobility issues or arthritis. And seniors may lack the energy or the motivation to cook just for themselves.
- Meal time companionship. An important part of nutrition is avoiding distraction while eating (this leads to overeating in many cases). Seniors who live alone are more likely to eat in front of the television without some kind of companionship.
- Clean-up. If cooking is a difficult chore, imagine how difficult clean-up can be for an elderly person living at home.
So much of seniors’ ability to be healthy depends on eating a healthy diet, and the challenges around planning, cooking, and eating healthy meals need to be faced every day. It’s important for seniors to get the help they need, and an in-home care aide can provide that help.
Home Care Powered by AUAF Keeps Seniors Eating Healthy at Home
One of the most important parts of getting senior help at home is working with a home care agency that understands the unique needs of every senior. Whether it’s knowing foods that are familiar to their culture, or simply the time and energy to cook healthy meals, our caregivers can help seniors living at home stay healthy. Call us at 773-274-9262 or contact us for more information on how Home Care Powered by AUAF can help.
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