Caregivers can help seniors create healthy habits that will maintain overall health by learning more about proper nutrition for seniors, safe senior exercise routines, and lifestyle habits.
Nutrition After Fifty
It is critical for seniors to practice proper nutrition. Poor nutrition affects the body, as well as the mind, energy levels, and can lead to other health issues. The more caregivers know about nutrition for seniors, the better they will be able to care for them. Professional caregivers know that while older adults typically need fewer calories, they need MORE of certain nutrients because their bodies are less efficient at making or absorbing certain vitamins and minerals. Here are a few tips to help caregivers promote healthy habits around mealtimes.
Tips for Caregivers to make mealtimes easier:
- If the person has a hard time using a knife and fork, serve finger foods.
- Try bite-sized pieces of sandwich, meat, or cut-up fruit or veggies.
- Serve one or two foods at a time. Too many choices can be overwhelming.
- If chewing or swallowing is a problem, mash, puree, or moisten foods with broth, sauce, or milk. Add flavor to meals with spices and herbs.
- Put out bowls of nuts and fruit to encourage snacking.
- Serve nutritional supplement drinks or smoothies with protein powder and fruits.
As a person ages, some nutrients become more important:
• Fiber to stay regular
• Potassium for blood pressure and to help avoid fatigue and depression
• Healthy fats to lower chances of heart disease
• Vitamin B12 for energy and brain function
• Vitamin D and Calcium for bone health
Benefits of exercise in older age
Did you know that one of the many vital services Caregivers can provide for seniors is as a workout partner? Caregivers are a vital part of helping seniors build and maintain healthy habits as they age and staying active as a senior has many benefits! Here are a few:
Increases mental capacity
Research links physical activity with slower mental decline. Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including our brain.
Exercise is beneficial in preventing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and can also delay or prevent many diseases associated with aging, such as diabetes, colon cancer, heart disease, stroke, and more.
Injuries can take longer to heal as people age. Regular exercise may speed up the wound-healing process by as much as 25 percent.
Exercise can help improve balance, which can help prevent falls. Falls are a significant cause of broken hips and other injuries that often lead to disability and hospitalization in older adults.
How caregivers can help seniors become more active:
- Find something they enjoy doing.
- Make sure it is geared to their fitness level.
- Start slowly, at a level they can manage, and work their way up.
- Do exercises at home with them. You can rent videos at the library and modify as necessary.
According to the AARP, 40% of people between 45 and 64 are considered sedentary. At age 64 and older, that number jumps to 60%.