As we age, healthy eating becomes even more important. Unfortunately, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), seniors face unique nutritional challenges — from fast-changing nutritional requirements to difficulty preparing meals or getting access to healthy food. It is imperative that seniors get the assistance that they require to take care of themselves and their changing nutritional needs. In some cases, friends and family members may be able to help offer some much-needed support. In other cases, professional help may be advisable — some seniors may even qualify for free EEOICPA and RECA home health care services.
Seniors Need Fewer Calories — But More Nutrients
The single biggest difference between the nutritional requirements of a senior citizen and the nutritional requirements of a person in their twenties or thirties is that a senior citizen needs additional nutrients in their diet, yet ultimately fewer calories. This can create some challenges. To start, many seniors tend to lose some of their appetite. For seniors, eating unhealthy, empty calories can fill them up, without actually satisfying any of their true nutritional needs. Older adults need access to the right food. The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion has made the following specific dietary recommendations for seniors:
- Focus on lean proteins (fish, eggs, beans, lean meats);
- Increase intake of fruits and vegetables;
- Make sure to get enough dietary fiber;
- Reduce overall intake of saturated fat and sugar;
- If high blood pressure has been observed, reduce sodium; and
- Be sure to stay hydrated.
The importance of the last point cannot be overstated. Seniors are at a much higher risk of suffering adverse effects related to dehydration. It is crucial that elderly and vulnerable people are always getting enough water.
Getting Help With Meal Planning and Meal Preparation
For some people, meal planning and meal preparation can be a truly daunting task. There are many reasons why an elderly or vulnerable person may struggle with or lose interest in making their own meals. Physical limitations, cognitive impairments, and logistical challenges can all combine to make fulfilling nutritional requirements challenging.
If you are caring for an elderly or vulnerable family member, it is important that you ensure that their nutritional needs are met. It may make sense for you to prep some meals for your loved one ahead of time, making certain tasks easier for them. It could also be time to consider looking into all of the available options for home healthcare. There are services to help with meal planning, meal preparation, and other common day-to-day chores.
Explore the Options for Seniors Who Need Nutritional Assistance
At United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care, we offer free home healthcare services to DOL EEOICPA/RECA beneficiaries. We are committed to providing seniors with the individual services that they need to live the highest possible quality of life — this includes meal planning, meal preparation, and other nutritional assistance. To find out more about what we can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We look forward to helping you and your family.