While we often need fewer kilojoules as we get older, we still need the same amount of nutrients, which means that food choices become even more important for seniors – especially those living at home.
While old habits can sometimes be hard to change, as we get older we should look for more nutrient-dense options, rather than those high in kilojoules.
1. Up your calcium intake
As we age, our requirement for calcium increases and we need extra serves of low fat milk, yoghurt and cheese. Aim for four serves each day.
2. Eat a wide variety of nutritious foods
You are what you eat, and it becomes especially important to eat widely from all food groups to make sure we get the nutrients we need:
- Eat plenty of fibre. Good sources are multigrain or whole grain breads, cereals and cereal products, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
- Aim for 2 servings of fruit, 5 servings of vegetables and 5 servings of cereals/(wholemeal) breads each day.
3. Keep hydrated
Aim to drink an adequate amount of fluid a day by:
- Distributing your intake of drinks evenly throughout the day.
- Drinking more fluids (preferably water) if the weather is hot, or if you are exercising.
- Cutting down on alcohol, fizzy drinks and drinks with caffeine in them.
4. How home care can help with nutrition
There are a variety of reasons that the elderly are at greater risk of undernutrition, these include chronic disease, taste bud deterioration, mechanical/motor issues and the onset of dementia.
For these people, it’s worth getting support around ensuring they’re getting nutritious meals every day. This can be in the form of home care help around grocery shopping, meal preparation or to organise home delivery food services such as meals on wheels.
Envigor clinical nurse Angela Donato-Connolly says that regular social events with family and friends surrounding food can also help those living at home stay engaged with the social aspects of food.
“Food holds many important social and cultural links for many Australians; these don’t disappear with age. If we can keep older Australians engaged in those aspects of sharing food and the practices surrounding it, there is a good chance they will continue to meet their own nutritional needs without the need for “intervention”.