Malnourishment effects nearly 3.7 million elderly persons in the United States, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. The reasons for this are many — from changing taste buds to dental problems to the physical demands of preparing meals. To help bring awareness to the issue, Dr. Lindsay Jones-Born, in conjunction with A Place for Mom, offers the following advice on combating senior malnourishment (viaÂ a recent articleÂ on Huffington Post).
Start with the basics
Check the food your loved one is eating (i.e., don’t be shy from raiding the fridge and rummaging through the pantry). Throw out any old food you may be suspect of. Other signs that your loved one’s diet lacks proper nutrition is unusual weight loss or weight gain and excessive bruises and wounds that take a long time to heal.
Seniors struggling with malnourishment will benefit from education and encouragement, according to Dr. Jones-Born, helping to ensure each meal is packed with essential vitamins and nutrients.
- Folic acid helps prevent heart disease and boosts red blood cell production. Foods that are rich in folic acid include spinach, asparagus and lentils.Â
- B12 helps synthesize protein and aids in mental function. Unfortunately, this process can become compromised with age. Consider adding a B12 supplement to your loved one’s diet or having plenty of foods like turkey, chicken, beef, eggs, milk and salmon in regular rotation on the menu.
- Vitamins C and D are very important to the health of an aging body, so make sure your senior has at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day (for the vitamin C) as well as foods rich in or fortified with vitamin D (oatmeal, egg yolk, sardines, etc.).
- Essential fatty acidsÂ are key to reducing inflammation in the body. A good source is fish, which Dr. Jones-Born recommends seniors eat twice a week. Another rich source of essential fatty acids is flax seeds, which can easily be added to a number of dishes.
- H2OÂ is naturally the best way to keep your loved one hydrated. The article suggests seniors should have nine 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
Are there any other ways to help prevent senior malnourishment that we missed? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
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