Practicing healthy nutrition and eating habits should be a priority at any age, but as we get older our body and lifestyle changes significantly. A slowing metabolism, changing calorie requirements, and chronic medical conditions can make meeting nutritional needs a challenge. Finding a good balance that includes all the major food groups while considering your aging loved one’s health issues is key, but don’t forget an often-overlooked ingredient. Companionship.
Dietary needs change as we age
As the National Council on Aging states, the definition of healthy eating changes the older we get which means it is even more important to choose foods that offer the best nutritional value. The foundation of your diet should be nutrient-rich foods including:
- fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- low- or non-fat dairy
A well-balanced diet should also include high protein foods such as fish, lean meats and poultry, nuts, and lentils. The USDA recently introduced MyPlate, a simpler way to make sure people are choosing items from all 5 food groups. Instead of using the traditional food pyramid, the Department of Agriculture created a plan with easy-to-read graphics which reflect the proper servings of each food group and tailored it to different life stages.
A key ingredient to any healthy diet is companionship
Think outside the box when planning, prepping and enjoying a meal together with a companion. Including someone who is involved with the entire meal process will reduce the risk of loneliness, which can lead to poor nutrition and eating habits.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of older adults were left with no option but to follow the quarantine and self-isolation orders. Research has shown, that social isolation can lead to loneliness and nutritional risk for anyone, but especially the aging population. As quarantine restrictions are being lifted and it’s safer to do so, now is the time to get back in the kitchen and the routine of planning, preparing and sharing a meal with your aging loved one. Connecting over some favorite dishes might be the secret recipe to making mealtimes special again.
Preparing and eating meals together will not only offer the personal connection to your loved one, but will ensure that the elements of nutrition that many seniors are lacking is included to create a well-balanced, nutritious plate. A healthy diet which includes companionship is one we all can benefit from.
How HealthStar can help
At HealthStar Home Health, we understand how overwhelming and confusing it can be to care for a loved one at home. Our home health care services offer a variety of supports to enable your loved one live a more independent and fulfilling life while staying in their own home, including companion care to prepare and share a meal with.
HealthStar Home Health can help you plan out specific set of care, chores, and transportation through our Home & Community Services and Personal Care Assistance offerings. HealthStar’s respite care program provides planned short-term breaks for caregivers. Respite care allows time for the caregiver to care for themself. The assistance and companionship provided by our skilled and loving professionals while you’re away helps to support and maintain a healthy relationship and leaves a positive experience for the patient. Contact us today for more information.