Did you know that by the age of 70, the average person can lose up to 40 percent of his or her muscle mass and 30 percent of his or her strength? While it’s no surprise that a nutritious and well-balanced diet is essential to fighting disease with age, eating the right foods can also help seniors maintain muscle mass and strength to ensure a healthier, more independent future. In fact, the simple act of adding protein to a senior loved one’s diet can minimize the risk of fractures, frailty, muscle breakdown, weakness, and even age-related cognitive decline. Check out these simple tips for adding protein to your older loved one’s diet.
Offer an Appealing Variety of Foods
No matter what your age, you’re going to want to eat foods that are appealing to you. Keep this in mind while helping your loved one with grocery shopping and meal preparation. There are a variety of protein-rich foods, including chicken, beef, fish, pork, nuts, and dairy, that can be incorporated into meals throughout the week to offer variety while controlling muscle deterioration. Protein-filled beverages are another option. Chocolate milk has about eight grams of protein, orange juice has two grams of protein, and smoothies can offer more than 20 grams of protein when made with whole milk, fresh fruit, and yogurt.
If your loved one needs help adopting and maintaining a nutritious diet, consider enlisting the help of a professional caregiver. When considering home care, families should make sure their senior loved ones have the resources they need to maintain their independence and remain healthy. Trusted in-home care professionals can assist seniors with daily tasks like cooking, bathing, and exercise, and they can also encourage them to focus on healthier lifestyle habits.
Stick with Easy-to-Digest Proteins
This is especially important when an older person is recovering from an illness or surgery or has an advanced condition with symptoms that can make mealtimes difficult, such as dementia or Parkinson’s. Opt for lean meats, such as chicken and turkey, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, and soybeans, which can promote comfort by being easy on the digestive system. When preparing these items, try to avoid adding spices or acidic flavours because they can be more difficult to digest with age, causing a cycle of avoidance and weight loss.
Enhance Food with Additional Protein
Because many older adults feel full after eating smaller quantities, more nutrient-dense food is needed. Add bite-sized pieces of meat to pasta or rice dishes, and sprinkle handfuls of nuts or seeds on salads for an instant protein punch. Nonfat dry milk is also a great additive that has three grams of protein and can be sprinkled into soups and sauces. Four tablespoons of dry milk added to one cup of whole milk can also provide an undetectable boost of protein.
Older adults may find it challenging to prepare nutritious meals on their own. If your aging loved one needs occasional help with bathing, grooming, cooking, or other basic household tasks, or if you need time to attend to important personal matters, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of live-in and respite care. Barrie seniors can maintain their independence while living at home with the help of our reliable respite caregivers.
Offer Supplemental Beverages
One of the leading reasons seniors don’t get enough protein is lack of appetite. Although common, this can cause seniors to miss out on valuable nutrients that are essential for optimal health. Commercial beverages are available for older adults with poor appetites. These drinks are dairy free, so lactose intolerance isn’t an issue. They contain an average of 10–15 grams of protein and can be added to recipes or used as a snack. It’s best to consult with your loved one’s primary care physician to select the right supplemental beverages that won’t harm your loved one’s overall health.
Eating more protein is just one of the many ways older adults can boost their health and wellbeing. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional at-home care. Barrie, ON, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life. If you need professional home care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at 647-970-3803.