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5 Ways to Help Older Adults Eat Healthier

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Eating well is a huge part of optimizing health. It is no secret that as people age, their bodies and abilities to digest and metabolize change. Therefore, it is essential for older adults to eat well.

The National Institutes of Health stated that a good diet can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, bone loss, anemia and more. These promising results will sway many older adults to change their diets. There are many ways that caregivers can pique the interest of loved ones who are not very enthusiastic about changing their eating habits. For example, there are home care items for the kitchen that can allow them to cook healthy meals instead of turn to unhealthy prepared foods.

Approach the process appropriately
Most likely, older family members are set in what, when and how they eat. For caregivers, breaching the topic of changing their loved ones' diets may be daunting, especially for those who provide a high level of care. After all, one of the most important aspects of providing care is giving people the ability to live as independently as possible. Therefore, everyday routines such as eating can mean a lot to them.

Discussing a dietary change is a matter of phrasing and reminding older family members of the many health benefits of eating well. Caregivers and those whom they care for can look for senior-friendly recipes together. Doing this will give them opportunities to bond and will give loved ones a stronger sense of control over the process.

Go slowly
Trying out new foods and recipes can be overwhelming. The NIH suggested taking one step at a time. This can enable loved ones to accept and adapt to the changes more readily. Caregivers can write down each healthy change, which can help family members realize the many strides they are taking toward a healthier lifestyle.

Here are five tips to consider when working toward more healthful diets.

  1. Replace snacks: One of the biggest unhealthy culprits in the diets of people of any age is snacking. If family members are avid snackers, switch out foods that are high in sodium, empty fats and other bad ingredients for healthier snacks such as fruits. Eating unhealthy foods is easier if they are present in the home. Removing them is an effective and subtle way to ensure that loved ones are eating well.
  2. Have a healthy potluck: Older adults who live alone may experience difficulty adhering to healthy guidelines either because they are not used to preparation methods or simply have not found a dish that they like. In these situations, caregivers can reach out to friends and other family members in the same age range and plan a healthy potluck. Everyone can bring their favorite senior-friendly dishes, which ensures variety and increases the chances of loved ones finding one that they love.
  3. Visit a farm: There is nothing quite as satisfying as enjoying a piece of produce from a local farm. Unless older loved ones live on or near farms, they may not have visited one in a long time. Spending a few hours at a farm can help them appreciate how much work goes into farming and how naturally good fruits and vegetables are for health. Additionally, caregivers and those whom they care for can purchase different fruits and vegetables while they are there.
  4. Purchase kitchen and dining home care items: Older family members who have difficulty gripping items can feel discouraged from cooking. Home care items for the kitchen can allow them to exercise their culinary creativity. This can be especially beneficial for people who are passionate about cooking but have since stopped.
  5. Use spices for more flavor: People's ability to taste diminishes as they age. Therefore, many people use salt. However, eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and water retention. Instead, try different spices and preparation methods such as marinating, which will allow spices and sauces to soak in before the meat is cooked. 

Work as a team
Though there are general guidelines in healthy foods for seniors, there may be more specific ones if they have any health conditions. There might be certain items that they should avoid, and others that they should focus on. In these cases, caregivers can consult with their family members' primary care physicians to figure out the best diets. Additionally, doctors may offer other healthy advice, such as staying fit.

Finding dishes that family members will love and learning to prepare them properly will require a lot of trial and error. However, once caregivers and those whom they care for figure out the best dishes, loved ones will notice the lasting benefits, such as feeling more energetic and overall better than before the change. 

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