Nutritional Needs Change With Age
As you enter the later years of your life, your nutrition requirements change. How much you need from particular food groups varies slightly with age.
Getting help to Meet Your Nutritional Needs
There’s help available if you’re having difficulty with preparing healthy meals. In most instances, you’d visit your G.P. for any health-related issues including meeting your nutritional needs. But, for some people, further intervention and support is often required. For example, many older people are diagnosed with Type II diabetes and need further education and support from a dietician to ensure they’re eating what’s best for them.
Another issue that impacts on many older people’s ability to meet their nutritional needs is being able to grocery shop. You may no longer drive a vehicle, or you might find that you can’t walk around the store for long periods at a time. If this is your situation, firstly consider asking a friend, neighbour or family member if they can help you with grocery shopping. If that’s not a possibility, you could inquire about getting help at home.
Sometimes we are no longer able to prepare meals, shop for groceries, cut up our food, or swallow food easily with age. If you’re impacted by any of these concerns, it’s quite possible that your nutritional needs are not being met and it’s time to talk with your G.P. about it. Also, If you do need extra help with your grocery shopping, meal preparation, swallowing or managing your food, contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to arrange for an ACAT assessment to see if you’re eligible for support in the home.
Moving on from this, what should you be eating to stay healthy as you get older to maintain health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases?
Eating to Stay Healthy as You Get Older
In regards to what to eat, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that you pick foods from the 5 food groups. This includes an abundance of vegetables, legumes and fruits in your diet. Also, eat plenty of fibre and whole grains in order to maintain healthy digestion. You can do this by opting for foods such as brown rice, and whole-wheat cereals. Additionally be sure to include some protein such as seafood, eggs or lean meat. And finally, be sure to drink enough water.
What’s more, there are definitely foods to consider avoiding or limiting in your diet. This includes alcohol, saturated fats, sugar and salt.
It’s also important to maintain a healthy weight as you get older. In order to manage your weight, you need to make healthy choices and portion your meal sizes. You should also consider regular exercise to stay healthy at all stages of life. Even if you’re physically impaired or have a chronic health condition, you can exercise under the guidance and supervision of an exercise physiologist.
So many components impact on what you eat as you get older. For instance, many older people live on a reduced income. Others have decreased energy and consequently a decreased appetite. If you are struggling with your diet, consider some of the following points:
Recently there’s been a deal of media attention on the dangers of a diet that’s high in sugar. If you’re concerned about your sugar intake try to avoid soft drinks, fruit juices, sweets containing sugar and foods that have a lot of sugar.
According to Nutrition Australia, for the most part, you don’t need to add salt to anything as it is found naturally in many foods that we eat, which is usually enough to meet our sodium requirements. A lot of packaged foods are full of added sodium, so be sure to always read the label and choose foods with lower sodium amounts. Too much sodium in the diet can cause elevated blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Water & Hydration
For many reasons as you age you’re inclined to feel less thirsty. Consequently, many people don’t drink enough fluids. There are some ways to make yourself stay hydrated even if you don’t like water. Try adding cups of tea, soda water, and reduced-fat milk to increase your fluids. Staying hydrated is really important, especially during the warmer months. It helps to maintain a healthy blood volume as well as aids in the digestion of food.
Bone health is concerning for many older Australians. Everyone needs calcium and vitamin D to build and maintain healthy bones. They also need to consider regular exercise. By having the recommended intake of calcium each day from dairy and other foods that are rich in calcium, you’ll take steps towards keeping your bones healthy.
Keep in mind that as you age, your calcium needs slightly increase. For those who have Osteoporosis, Osteoporosis Australia states that calcium intake through diet will not be enough. In order to prevent fractures of the bones, osteoporosis treatment plans are required, and these plans will include prescribed calcium supplements
For many people, their activity levels decrease as they age, so they, therefore, burn less calories. Fats are actually the most calorie-dense macro-nutrients, so too much fat can significantly increase your energy intake. And some fats are really bad for you such as saturated fats and trans-fats. Although reducing your intake of certain fats is important, some elderly people find it difficult to eat enough calories and they lose weight. When you eat fat, opt for polyunsaturated fats, found naturally in foods such as seeds, nuts, avocado, oily fish. If you’re losing weight without intention, it is really important to visit your G.P. to discuss your concerns and get some advice on healthy options to meet your nutritional needs.
Many older people worry a lot about their bowel functions as they age. Remember, in order to maintain healthy bowel function you need to drink plenty of water, stay physically active and eat foods that have a lot of fibre. If you do all of this but your bowels aren’t working regularly, don’t waste time and make an appointment with your doctor.
Look After Your Oral Health
Many older people find it difficult to get to the dentist, and this can significantly impact on nutrition and diet. Additionally, poorly fitted dentures, tooth cavities, and oral pain can affect eating patterns. Unfortunately for some older people, they’re unable to get to the dentist for lots of reasons. This could be due to transport issues or mobility limitations. Remember that I you need help to get to the dentist for treatment, look at contacting My Aged Care for help. Also, consider looking into whether you’re eligible for free dental care in your state.
Budgeting and Eating Healthy
The majority of people are on a strict budget, and choosing healthy options is often expensive. However, there are ways to save money and still eat healthy meals.
When you’re on a strict budget, meal planning is important so that you minimise food wastage. You can also minimise waste by choosing easy to prepare, healthy meals that you can cook in bulk, and freeze for other days. This reduces your overall time in the kitchen as well as reducing costs by buying in bulk. But always remember to store your food safely, and if you’re unsure, follow the food safety guidelines.
To finish, as you enter into the latter part of your life, it’s important to focus on getting your nutritional requirements. Be sure to drink plenty of water. Remember to eat a variety of healthy foods, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when it is needed. If you need help with meeting your nutritional requirement, make an appointment with your doctor and take things from there.