Nutrition is a fundamental part of our lives and especially for the elderly as it is crucial for their health and wellbeing. Throughout the course of our lives our relationship with food will change along with the aging process. Instilling a good dietary plan along with physical activity can ultimately reduce health issues, and can also speed up recovery time when an elderly person is taken ill.
Reducing the risk of Malnutrition
As well as ensuring a varied diet it is also important that older people have a choice in what they eat and that their religious, cultural and choice perspective is respected and catered for.
Many older people have problems with chewing or swallowing food for reasons such as lost teeth, ill-fitting dentures or Dysphagia. If this is not catered for correctly this could in turn lead to malnutrition, so it is essential that food is prepared in a way that is palatable for the individual’s needs.
Some elderly people may have a smaller appetite than others so to reduce the risk of malnourishment adding more fats to their food will improve their calorie intake. For example adding a thicker spread of butter to a sandwich or serving potatoes or chips with a meal can help ensure that the people we care for are getting all the calories they need in a day.
Nutritional Related Disorders
Eating too much of foods that are high in refined sugars and salt can lead to long term health issues such as anemia, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure etc. So it is important that those who are considered vulnerable and in care are given regular nutritious meals to prevent any health complications.
Dementia patients may experience issues with food and drinks as a result of confusion or memory loss of food or using cutlery. Wherever possible dementia patients should be encouraged to support themselves whilst eating. Some have a tendency to eat with their hands so offering finger foods will help them to feed themselves and retain their independence.
Older people who are considered obese should combine both physical activity and a reduction of calories to help gradually bring down their weight. They should follow the eat well plate and limit their sugar and salt intake.
Great care should be taken when preparing food for those with Coeliac disease. Foods containing certain ingredients such as wheat should be kept away and prepared separately when preparing a meal for an elderly person with Coeliac disease to avoid cross contamination.
Further information can be found here