If you’ve been following the old food pyramid as a guide for your elderly loved one’s nutrition, you may be missing the boat. Tufts University researchers updated the food pyramid for older adults to match the new MyPlate format. You can find more information about the new guidelines at MyPlate for Older Adults . There have been some significant changes made to the national food pyramid guide that we should all try to incorporate into not just our diets but also the lives of our older loved ones whom we may be preparing meals for and feeding. The new food guidelines for older adults:
Continues to emphasize nutrient-dense food choices and the importance of fluid balance, but
Has added guidance about forms of foods that could best meet the unique needs of older adults, and stresses the importance of regular activity.
Older adults tend to need fewer calories as they age but many seniors absorb nutrients less well than they did when they were younger. Consequently, while they may need or eat less calories, their bodies still require the same or higher levels of nutrients for optimal health. The challenge then becomes ensuring that the seniors in our care get the proper nutrition in the smaller portions and amounts they tend to eat. The new recommendations focus on:
Whole, enriched, and fortified grains and cereals, such as brown rice and 100% whole wheat breads.
Brightly-colored vegetables, such as carrots and broccoli.
Deeply-colored fruits, such as berries and melon.
Low- and non-fat dairy products, such as yogurt and low-lactose milk.
Dry beans (cooked in soups or dishes), nuts, fish, poultry, lean meats and eggs.
Liquid vegetable oils (especially Olive oil) and soft spreads low in saturated and trans fats.
Appropriate fluid intake. (This is especially important since many seniors forget or ignore fluids.)
Physical activity, such as walking, house work and yard work.
Additionally, suggested modifications include bags of frozen pre-cut vegetables that can be resealed, and single-serve portions of canned fruit – choices that can be easier to prepare and have a longer shelf life, minimizing waste. While fresh vegetables and fruits are almost always the better choice when it comes to nutrition, cost and storage issues often trump the benefits of these foods for seniors and many of them find it more cost-effective and easier to use frozen or canned products.
Meeting the appropriate nutritional needs of the elderly can be challenging, but AAging Better In-Home Care can help! Every caregiver on staff is trained in proper nutritional planning and preparation when hired and we take great pride in our caregivers being able to shop for and/or prepare delicious and nutritional meals for our clients. From planning and shopping, to preparing appealing meals and providing companionship to make them more enjoyable, we can be of assistance to you or your loved one every step of the way, if you feel now is the right time for some additional help in caring for your loved one.
Contact us online or call us at (208) 777-0308 in the Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls or Hayden areas; (208) 263-7889 in the Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry or Priest River areas; or (208) 784-1505 in the Kellogg, Wallace or Pinehurst areas. We will gladly set up a free in-home assessment or answer any questions you might have.