Eating right is an important element of maintaining overall health, especially for seniors. If you have an elderly loved one living in Montreal, it’s imperative to understand how their diet can affect their well being, and which foods will help to prevent medical issues.
Tips for Healthy Eating
1. Don’t Follow Food Groups – Canada’s food guide –which was updated this year, for the first time since 2007- no longer contains the four groups. Instead, the recommendations focus on following a diet high in vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and whole-grain foods. This means that concentrating your diet based on eating from each of the food groups is now an outdated approach to healthy eating.
2. Get More Calcium – Older people need more calcium to maintain bone health and prevent osteoarthritis, the most common bone-related disease among seniors. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy greens, almonds, and lentils. Along with calcium, vitamin D is also important for bone health, as it plays a key role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Getting enough of these nutrients can help to maintain bone integrity, which may prevent fractures and other injuries. The best source of vitamin D is from sunlight, which also provides many other health benefits for the elderly.
3. Reduce Sugar – A diet high in processed sugar can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For Montreal seniors, diabetes is an elevated risk, as being above the age of 45 increases the chance of getting the disease due to a decline in physical activity. Having sugar regularly can also lead to tooth decay, which is especially common in the elderly. Avoid sugary foods like chocolate and other sweets, as well as most breakfast cereals and all soft drinks.
4. Cut the Salt – Excessive sodium in the diet can lead to hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, which is a disorder commonly affecting senior citizens. Some health risks associated with hypertension include coronary artery disease, heart failure, dementia, loss of vision, stroke, and others. High blood pressure can be avoided by reducing alcohol intake, and limiting the consumption of foods with added sodium.
5. Eat with Others – Socializing is important for the elderly, and bonding with family and friends over a good meal is a great way to prevent loneliness and depression. Seniors can enjoy meals with caregivers also, as companion care is an important element of quality home care assistance.
6. Avoid Highly-Processed Foods – This means limiting sugary drinks, deep-fried food, cookies/cakes, deli meats, chocolates & candies, sugary breakfast cereal, and frozen microwave dinners.
7. Know the Truth about Fats – Many Montreal seniors suffer from heart diseases caused by high cholesterol levels. Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats can lower this risk. The difference between the two types of fats are important: Unsaturated fats (the “good fats”) have health benefits, while saturated fats (the “bad fats”) do not, and pose a risk to cardiovascular health if consumed regularly in high amounts. Sources of good fats include nuts, avocados, eggs, and fish like salmon and trout. Sources of bad type of fats include butter, red meat, and high-fat dairy items.
8. Eat Protein – Protein is an essential macronutrient, responsible for building and repairing muscle tissue. This is especially vital for older people, due to the prevalent loss of muscle mass that comes with aging. Preventing or minimizing the deterioration of muscles can help reduce the risk of falls in the elderly. Choose lean sources of protein, such as fish, chicken, and legumes, as opposed to red meats.
9. Drink Plenty of Water – Dehydration in the elderly is a prevalent issue, especially in the hot Montreal summers, so drinking enough water every day is crucial to preventing serious medical conditions. A lack of hydration can lead to complications such as heat stroke, urinary tract infections, kidney stones or failure, and shock. Having water as the drink of choice for meals (and while taking medication) can increase daily intake. Senior caregivers can keep track of your loved one’s water consumption throughout the day, helping to prevent dehydration.
10. Get Lots of Fiber – This type of carbohydrate can’t be properly broken down by the body, so it passes through unchanged and thus helps to keep things moving in the digestive tract. Because seniors often face problems with irregularity, eating a diet high in fiber-rich foods, including vegetables and fruits, is important. This can prevent constipation and promote gastrointestinal health.
11. Prevent Malnutrition – Seniors often don’t eat enough throughout the day. Although we require fewer calories on average as we reach our later years, eating sufficiently is still essential to avoiding health problems; our organs and bones need the nutrients acquired through food, which becomes especially important with age. There are many reasons why a senior may eat less than is healthy, including:
- A decrease in appetite;
- inability to chew or pain from chewing;
- difficulty preparing meals;
- a decreased sense of taste.
If chewing or swallowing is difficult, seniors should have soft foods incorporated into their diets; items like unflavored yogurt provide plenty of protein and calcium and are easy to eat, while mashed potatoes, fruit smoothies, and plain oatmeal are great sources of fiber. Scrambled eggs are also a great, soft source of healthy fats and protein.
If you’re concerned that your loved one isn’t eating enough nutrient-dense foods, Complete Care Coordination can help: Included among our elderly caregiving services is meal planning & preparation. Caregivers can help by making fresh, home-cooked meals for seniors, taking into account dietary restrictions and the importance of healthy eating. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today, it would be our pleasure to discuss our meal preparation services with you.