4 Nutrients That Your Elderly Loved One Needs in Their Diet
Getting the right nutrition for everyone that you love can be pretty challenging as a family caregiver. It’s even tougher if your elderly loved one doesn’t see the need to be eating healthier. Educating yourself about some of the main nutrients that are important can help you to focus on getting those into your loved one’s meals. Variety is important, and understanding how to hit all the right notes can help you convince stubborn eaters that they need to eat better.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are awesome at reducing inflammation and fighting illnesses such as heart disease. They are found in healthy fats, nuts and fish. Your loved one’s doctor might recommend a supplement, usually in the form of a fish oil supplement, if she’s not getting enough of this nutrient in her diet. In addition to fish, you can find this nutrient in flaxseeds, walnuts, and avocado.
Calcium is essential for healthy teeth and bones. It can also help to control high blood pressure. Calcium is found in milk and yogurt, and it’s often supplemented in orange juice and other beverages. Dark leafy greens are also a huge source of calcium, so stock up on kale, turnip greens, collard greens, and spinach. If your loved one doesn’t like eating greens, consider adding them to smoothies to get the benefits.
There is a lot of research these days on how important vitamin D is to the body. Our bodies can create vitamin D with a few minutes of sun exposure each day, but many people are still deficient in this essential nutrient. Your loved one’s doctor can perform a quick blood test to determine whether he is low in vitamin D or not. Too little vitamin D can contribute to osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, and a whole host of other health problems. Cheese and egg yolks are excellent sources of vitamin D, but if your loved one is extremely deficient, a supplement may be necessary.
Water is important for everyone, but your elderly loved one is less likely to realize when she’s thirsty. As a result, she’s likely to drink far less water than she should on a daily basis. Water is the best source of hydration, but your loved one can get additional hydration from foods such as fruits and vegetables, soups, and herbal teas. Keep a water bottle at your loved one’s side so that she’s more likely to sip often.
If you need help with more ideas for getting nutrients into your loved one’s diet, talk with her medical team and her home care providers. They often have experience with this exact issue and can give you specific pointers for your loved one.