The food choices your loved one makes each day affects their overall health. Certain eating habits may even indicate that it’s time to consider Assisted Living. This article explores various signs of an unhealthy diet, along with the nutrition plans offered by several senior living communities.
Knowing the Signs
Healthy nutritional habits are essential to good health. The dietary needs of seniors change, so you should keep a vigilant eye on how your parent eats. One simple method when monitoring your parent’s nutrition is to take a look at their pantry and cupboards. Here are some signs to look for:
- Is there little (or no) food in the house? This sign indicates that your loved one either isn’t hungry or is forgetting to eat; both of which are concerning for seniors living alone.
- Is there too much food in the house? Over spending on food is the other side of the coin. Too much food tells you that your loved one may be at risk of overeating. Weight fluctuations in either extreme are especially detrimental to seniors. Alternatively, excess food may indicate that your loved one is taking additional trips to the store due to memory impairment. In either scenario, it may help to consult a healthcare professional to determine if there’s cause for concern.
- Do they have fresh food in the house? While frozen dinners are acceptable meal choices from time to time, a freezer full of them, especially with no fresh produce in sight, can mean that cooking has become overly burdensome.
- Is their main source of food take-out or delivery? Fast food is convenient on occasion, but consider a reliance on it a warning sign that your loved one is no longer as capable of preparing food or going out to shop. A dependence on eating out may also have detrimental health effects as these options are normally heavy on simple carbs, fat, and salt.
Symptoms of Poor Nutrition
Whereas cognitive issues due to old age leave no visible trace, your loved one may experience some physical symptoms due to nutrition problems:
- Fluctuations in weight (either loss or gain)
- Cracked lips or inflammation
- Fatigue and lack of concentration
Diana Rodriguez, from Everyday Health, says, “A healthy diet packed with vital nutrients can help ward off potential health problems that are common in senior citizens, like constipation, heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Nutritious foods will also help you maintain a healthy weight and can work wonders for your energy level.” Foods that should make up the bulk of a senior’s diet include fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.
- Fruits & Vegetables – Packed with fiber, vitamins, and enzymes, fruits and vegetables reduce the risk of heart disease and promote overall health. Steam vegetables that may be too difficult to chew for seniors with any dental issues.
- Lean Meats – Regarded for their high protein content, lean meats aid in muscle growth and retention. Lean meats can also aid in healthy and shiny hair and nails. Options for lean meats include chicken breasts, round steak, and ground turkey.
- Whole Grains – A healthier option to refined grains, studies show that whole grains reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Options for whole grains include brown rice, whole grain pasta, and quinoa.
Communities to Consider
When deciding on a community for your loved one, it is important to compare the community’s health and wellness offerings against the needs of your parent. The following Assisted Living communities have a range of salubrious offerings:
- Brookdale Senior Living Solutions – Brookdale boasts restaurant-style dining with chef-prepared menu options at all of their over 1,100 locations. These carefully prepared menu items focus on fresh and healthy ingredients. Additionally, Brookdale offers a signature fitness program called B-Fit. Designed by a group of wellness experts, this program incorporates components of tai chi to promote brain stimulation, meditation, and exercise. Instructors customize classes to accommodate the needs of each resident.
- Belmont Village Senior Living – Belmont Village has locations all across the country. Each location strives to offer the freshest and healthiest food options to their residents. Belmont Village also offers a health and wellness program, known at Seniorpreneur, which promotes well-being through individualized meal and workout plans.
Healthy living is critical at this time in your loved one’s life, so make sure that you pay attention to your parent’s dietary needs. If you cannot manage on your own, contact a Senior Living Advisor to learn how to find support.