As seniors age, their dietary needs and preferences can change. A balanced diet filled with fresh, nutritious food can promote longevity and prevent illnesses, but many older adults feel challenged to eat enough of the right foods.
Difficulty shopping for and preparing meals, confusion over dietary recommendations, and emotional distress can make it challenging for seniors to meet their nutritional needs. Home care nutrition services are a fantastic option for those who want to support healthy eating habits in the comfort and familiarity of their own kitchens.
1. Home care prevents malnutrition.
Changes in hormones, certain medications, and chronic illnesses can significantly reduce our appetites as we age. Many seniors experience a diminished sense of smell or taste, making food less appetizing and enjoyable than it once was. These factors, especially when coupled with difficulty getting groceries or moving around the kitchen, can motivate seniors to neglect mealtimes.
Malnutrition poses a serious threat to older adults. Over time, it directly contributes to a range of health issues, like:
- Poor healing
- Weakened immune system
- Increased risk of falls and hospitalizations
- Bone weakness
- Loss of muscle mass
When natural hunger decreases, it becomes particularly important to make meals count towards supplying seniors’ bodies with their daily nutritional needs. In-home professionals come equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to prepare nutrient-dense, appealing dishes that encourage seniors to take in the protein, vitamins, and minerals they need to ward off malnutrition.
2. In-home nutrition and feeding assistance is safer.
Home care professionals are available to help elderly adults who have difficulty feeding themselves, as well as those who struggle with swallowing or are at an increased risk of choking.
Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, is common amongst seniors living with Parkinson’s disease, the results of a stroke, and a number of other chronic conditions. In-home nutrition professionals are trained to safely position these clients for feeding as well as how to offer foods and beverages at the right consistency to prevent choking and aspiration.
When safety is on the line, it is helpful to have professional assistance that supports seniors’ health, cleanliness, and dignity at mealtimes.
3. Home care nutrition services help seniors stick to prescribed diets.
If the senior adult in your life is returning home from a hospital stay, a doctor has likely prescribed dietary recommendations to support a speedy recovery. Patients who are told to add protein or antioxidant-rich foods to their diets, avoid cholesterol, or add in healthy fats may be uncertain about how to put their plan into action.
Seniors who have been cooking and eating the same foods for many years may be hesitant to make changes in response to a new diagnosis. For conditions like elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, nutrition is a critical part of symptom management. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to complications of type 2 diabetes that isn’t properly controlled through diet.
Whether healthcare providers have ordered a temporary dietary modification or a more comprehensive lifestyle change, home care nutrition professionals can be an invaluable resource for managing seniors’ changing needs. Nutrition specialists can work with food aversions, allergies, and preferences to incorporate your loved one’s favorite foods into the diet that best supports their health goals.
Making lasting changes to eating habits is hard; the process is much easier when there are healthy and delicious food options already on hand. In addition to meal preparation, in-home nutrition services can also help with planning menus, creating grocery lists, and shopping for food so that seniors’ pantries and refrigerators stay stocked with healthy and nutritious meals and snacks.
4. Nutrition services promote emotional wellness.
Eating is often an inherently social act. Seniors with limited mobility, especially those living alone, may come to view mealtimes as lonely and be less inclined to prepare balanced meals just for themselves. Meals on Wheels reports that elderly individuals who feel lonely eat less often than those who regularly socialize over food. They also take in fewer categories, eat fewer vegetables, and are more prone to illness.
Beyond providing dietary support for physical needs, a lesser-recognized benefit of home care nutrition is the companionship and socialization it can reintroduce into the lives of seniors who would otherwise be eating alone. In-home nutrition experts offer older adults an opportunity to take an active role in planning and preparing meals in the comfort of their own kitchens.
By supporting their independence and emotional wellbeing, home care nutrition feeds seniors’ minds as well as their bodies. Feeling connected and productive fosters many of the same health benefits as a proper diet, including a longer, happier life.
Interested in finding home care nutrition services near you? Connect with nutrition professionals and bring delicious meals tailored to your senior loved one’s unique health goals directly to their home kitchen.