A Healthy Lifestyle for the Elderly

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Nutrition and eating well is important for people of all ages. But it can be difficult for seniors with health issues and physical limitations to get the nutrients they need for a well balanced diet. In 15 to 50 percent of all seniors, malnutrition, weight loss, disorientation, lightheadedness, lethargy and loss of appetite can occur and be easily mistaken for an illness or disease. If you are looking after a loved one, there are several things you can do to make sure they are getting the proper diet and nutrition they need. Professionals in Houston nursing homes and facilities all across the country are trained to watch for signs of malnutrition and take the proper steps to correct the problem.

The best way to find out if they are having problems is to pay close attention to their eating habits and ask questions. Be attentive to their needs. Ask them to be open and honest about how they are feeling and what they would enjoy eating. Listed below are possible reasons why your loved one isn't eating well.

Decreased Sensitivity
It is common for appetites to decrease as a person ages. A senior's sense of smell and taste begin to slowly diminish, affecting their ability to enjoy food. If a meal isn't appetizing, seniors are less likely to east as much of it as they should.

Over-the-counter and prescription medications can cause reduced appetite, nausea or even make some foods taste differently. Even though their bodies need the food and calories, seniors are less hungry due to their medications. Try feeding them a variety of foods or ask their doctor if a different medication can be used.

Dental Health
Missing teeth, ill-fitting dentures, mouth sores or jaw pain can make chewing food very painful. Dental health gets worse as we age, and all of these factors could be making it difficult for your loved to enjoy a meal.

Financial Burden
To compensate for a limited income, some seniors may cut back on grocery expenses by purchasing cheaper and less nutritious food. Lacking the money to pay for healthy foods can cause a variety of health problems. Try to help them come up with a suitable budget that will still allow them to purchase healthy foods.

Shopping for groceries is becoming more difficult for everyone, not just the elderly. Many food stores are located in busy shopping malls or on crowded streets. Seniors have to drive to the store, making their way through heavy traffic, and park far away from the door. When you add snow and ice to the mix, grocery shopping can become a dangerous feat for the elderly.

Physical Limitations
All seniors become frail with age, but for those with debilitating conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia or a disability, even the most simple tasks can become impossible. Opening a can, dicing vegetables or standing long enough to cook a meal can become too difficult to achieve.

Poor memory, Alzheimer's disease, and dementia can impair a senior's ability to eat a variety of foods regularly because they can't remember what to buy at the store. Some seniors eat the same foods over and over again without even realizing it, or they skip meals entirely because they can't remember the last time they ate.

Life becomes more difficult with age. Loved ones have passed on or live far away, our bodies begin to fail us, our minds begin to deteriorate, and we become very lonely. Depression can affect a senior's appetite or make them feel apathetic about caring for their own health. Left untreated, depression can lead to many nutrition and health problems.

To improve the diet of your loved one, try offering nutritionally-dense foods, enhancing the aromas or flavors of the food, make eating a social event, encourage them to snack on healthy foods, take care of dental problems, taking them to the grocery store to help them shop, or even consider getting government assistance.

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