6 Ways Seniors Can Keep a Healthy Diet
The winter season can be difficult for seniors, both physically and mentally. With colder temperatures and shorter days, staying active and making healthy choices can be harder. But there are steps you can take to keep your senior loved one healthy this winter. Eating a balanced diet is key to maintaining good health. Eating well-rounded meals can help seniors stay energized, maintain a healthy weight, and promote overall wellness. Here are six tips to help your senior loved one maintain a healthy diet this winter:
1) Drink Plenty of Water
Seniors need to stay hydrated. As we age, our sense of thirst begins to decrease, so it's important to remind seniors to drink water regularly. Drinking plenty of water can help keep them healthy and active throughout the winter. Water is also essential for digestion and helps the body absorb vital nutrients.
Other beverages like milk and juice are also hydrating, but limiting the number of drinks containing added sugar or salt is essential. These can contribute to high blood pressure and other health problems. So to stay hydrated and healthy during the winter months, encourage your senior loved one to drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
2) Choose Healthy Meals
When you choose healthy meals, you provide your body with the nutrition it needs to stay healthy. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables each day can help provide you with essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, whole grains such as oatmeal, barley, and brown rice provide crucial nutrients. Include lean proteins such as fish, skinless poultry, and beans in your meals for protein. In addition, choose low-fat dairy products and healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados.
Making wise choices when eating out is also essential. Look for menu items that are grilled, steamed, baked, or broiled instead of fried. Look for salads and vegetable dishes not covered in sauces or butter. Choose whole grain bread, lean proteins, and healthy sides such as steamed vegetables and fruit.
3) Take Note of How Much You Eat
It can be easy to overeat when faced with large portion sizes. However, by keeping track of how much food you consume, you can ensure you are not overeating. One way to do this is by using smaller plates and bowls. Doing so allows you to track how much food you are consuming and gives you control over your meal size.
Another way to ensure that you are not overeating is to note how much you eat throughout the day. Keep track of what you eat and drink, and take note of the serving sizes. This will help you stay aware of how much food you are consuming, so you can ensure that you eat in moderation.
Finally, be mindful when eating. Eat slowly, pay attention to how full you feel, and stop eating when you feel satisfied. Eating mindfully is a great way to ensure you are not overeating, as it can help you savor each bite and recognize when you are full.
4) Choose Foods That Protect Your Teeth and Gums
Choose fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, and cereals. These are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and help to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Eat lean proteins like poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, and legumes. They are suitable for your teeth and gums. Include dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese to get plenty of calcium for strong teeth and bones. Remember citrus fruits! They contain vitamin C, which helps keep your gums healthy. Avoid sticky, chewy foods like dried fruit and hard candy, as these can stick to your teeth. Avoid sugary drinks like soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks, as these can erode your tooth enamel. Instead, drink plenty of water to keep your mouth hydrated and your teeth clean.
Eating a balanced diet of nutrient-rich foods can help seniors maintain their health and well-being. Eating healthy can also help protect your teeth and gums. Make sure to choose soft foods that are easy to chew and avoid sugary snacks that can cause dental problems. Keeping up with dental visits is also essential to prevent and treat any issues. Ask your doctor or caretaker for more information about caring for your teeth as you age.
5) Store Food Safely
Ensure your refrigerator is kept at 40°F (4°C) or lower. This will help keep any food from spoiling quickly. Ensure that the food stored in the fridge is not expired. Keep an eye on the expiration dates and discard anything past its due date. Store food away from direct sunlight or heat sources. This will ensure that food does not spoil due to heat exposure. Wash your hands before preparing food and after handling raw meats. Cook all foods thoroughly. If a thermometer isn't available, use visual cues to determine if food is cooked correctly.
Following these guidelines will help ensure that your senior loved one is consuming food that is safe and free from potential contaminants. Food safety is an essential part of staying healthy this winter season.
6) Check the Nutrition Label
When buying food for your senior loved one, it is essential to make the right choices. Make sure you look at the nutrition label and take note of the calories, fats, sodium, and sugar. All of these things can have an impact on a senior's health.
A healthy diet should include foods that are low in calories and high in nutrients. Look for foods that contain fewer than 300 calories per serving. This will help you control weight gain and reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Unsaturated fats like nuts, avocados, and fatty fish are essential for a healthy diet. Choose these over-saturated fats, such as butter, lard, and coconut oil. Limit your saturated fat intake. Too much sodium can also increase blood pressure. Look for foods that are low in sodium or have "no added salt" listed on the label. Try to keep your sodium intake to less than 2,000 milligrams per day. Added sugars provide no nutritional benefit and can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Choose foods with no added sugar or that only contain naturally occurring sugars.
It is also a good idea to ask your doctor if there are any specific nutrients or ingredients that your loved one should limit or increase in their diet. This will help ensure they get the nutrition they need to stay healthy this winter.
The CDPAP Program Can Help Care for Your Senior Loved One
Caring for a senior loved one can be an overwhelming task. Fortunately, programs are available that help families provide better care and support. For example, the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) is a New York State Medicaid program that allows seniors to choose a caregiver to help with their daily activities. This caregiver is then compensated through a fiscal intermediary such as Elite Choice.
The CDPAP program also provides financial support for caregivers. The caregivers are paid an hourly rate for their services, and these payments are made through the fiscal intermediary. This financial support helps alleviate the stress of caring for a loved one and makes it easier for family members to provide the best possible care. To learn more about the CDPAP program and how we can help you care for your senior loved one, call us at 718.521.2562.
Written by: Leah Ganz
Director of Patient Services
Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain management and internal medicine. She oversees all patient services across Elite's departments.