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Toddlers have different nutritional requirements from infants, and teens have different needs from preschoolers. It’s the same with older adults and younger ones. As people age, they need different things when it comes to nutrition. Even seniors can have radically different needs. Activity levels throughout their lives, what chronic health issues they have developed, and their current weight can all play a part in what needs seniors have concerning nutrition. Older adults can change their health for the better by making better nutrition choices and adding more physical activity to their lives. Of course, any drastic changes should be discussed with a doctor. It’s also possible to maintain good health by continuing to make good food choices and incorporating physical activity into daily routines. Although seniors will have individual needs, some things can help all older adults live happier, healthier lives.
Unique Needs for Seniors
- It’s important to eat a variety of foods from all of the food groups with low amounts of sodium, saturated fats, and added sugar. Eating in this way will help prevent seniors from developing issues like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Seniors need more protein than younger adults do just to maintain their current level of muscle mass.
- The most important nutrients for seniors to include in their daily diet are vitamins D and B12, calcium, fiber, and potassium.
- Some seniors lose their sense of thirst. It’s more important than ever to stay hydrated. Water is the most important drink and should be chosen over higher-calorie options. Skim milk and low-sugar milk substitutes are also great options, as they help older adults get in their calcium.
- Some seniors struggle with maintaining their optimal weight. This may be because they are eating more and moving less, and therefore gaining weight, but others lose weight because of appetite issues. It’s important to work with a senior’s primary care doctor to determine what a healthy calorie range is for them.
- Protein is more important than ever. Along with lean meat, add beans, lentils, peas, soy, lowfat dairy, and seafood to the diet to provide more protein and help maintain the body’s muscle mass.
- Change up snacks so they are based on produce. Seniors who struggle with using a sharp knife can choose frozen produce, canned fruits and vegetables, or already prepared fresh produce from the grocery store.
- Meal times are often more pleasant when they are shared with others. Invite friends over, attend community meals at senior centers, and establish potlucks to make sure nutritional and social needs are being met.
- Seniors need vitamin B12, but the body’s ability to absorb this vitamin decreases with age. Protein-rich foods help ensure that the body gets enough B12 and absorbs it properly. Eating fortified cereals is another great way to hit daily B12 goals.
- Meal replacement shakes are popular with many seniors. The regular use of these and other dietary supplements should be discussed with a doctor to make sure good nutrition is being achieved and none of the supplements are negatively impacting any medications the person takes.
- Seniors who stay active are more likely to live independent lives for longer.
- Regular exercise is correlated with better brain function, good bone strength, and increased balance.
- Seniors should try to include two sessions of muscle-building exercise each week.
- Overall, seniors should aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly.
- Don’t be afraid to try new things! Lots of communities have senior centers and offer exercise classes and physical activities designed for seniors. Many people later in life discover a love for pickleball, yoga, or golf.
It’s normal for seniors to develop some memory issues as they age. The best way to prevent memory loss and keep brains sharp and focused is to stay both physically and mentally active. Good nutrition and regular exercise help preserve good brain function, but just like bodies need exercise, so do brains. Seniors who engage their brains can delay or prevent memory issues as they age.
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