Nutrition Tips for Seniors and Caregivers
The food we eat is incredibly important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. In fact, there are 14 vitamins and 15 minerals that humans need to survive. Our bodies are built to extract the vitamins and minerals that we need from the food that we eat, but people of all ages need to make sure that they’re getting enough nutrients from their diet.
When you’re a caretaker you must keep in mind that seniors may have a harder time absorbing nutrients than they have in the past. This issue can be compounded by issues like medication, decreased appetite, and bad food choices.
So, how can you make sure that if the person you are caring for is getting enough vitamins?
- Make sure they’re eating a balanced diet
The first, and easiest, step is to make sure that your loved one is eating a healthy, balanced diet. They should be eating from each section of the food pyramid including fruit, vegetables, protein, dairy, healthy oils and whole grains. Meal prepping for a week at a time may be a good way to easily make sure that there is always something healthy and nutritious available to eat whenever they’re hungry.
- Monitor for strange, unexplained symptoms
Individuals who have a vitamin deficiency can have a myriad of strange symptoms, including muscle weakness, prickly feet, brain fog, and an unsteady gait. While these symptoms could have a variety of causes, they could also be a sign of B12 deficiency - a vitamin responsible for maintaining DNA, blood, and nerve cells. If the person you care for is exhibiting new symptoms, it’s always best to call their doctor for a check-up.
- Ask their doctor for a blood test
Unfortunately, the only way to really be sure that your loved one has a vitamin deficiency is by a blood test. Luckily, this is an easy and routine procedure that any primary care physician can take care of. Within a few days you’ll have the results and will be well equipped with information about how to remedy the problem.
Be careful to never make changes to your loved one’s diet or supplements without first consulting their doctor. In some cases, medication or other underlying health conditions may make a change like this dangerous, so it’s always important to get a personal recommendation fro a health professional.