Nutrition and Elderly Live-in Care
In this article, we take a closer look at the role nutrition plays in elderly live-in care, and how important a healthy balanced diet is, no matter your age. We will also look at particular elements of a diet that can be beneficial to the elderly.
Read more here about How to Prepare for a Live-in Carer.
Importance of nutrition in the elderly
Ageing brings with it many changes to our bodies, including changes to our nutritional needs and our diets. This is because our metabolic rate decreases and we also tend to reduce our energy expenditure by becoming more sedentary. Therefore, we tend to eat less or reduce our calorie intake as a result. This does not mean that we can neglect a healthy diet because our bodies will still need to be nourished with plenty of vitamins and minerals to maximise health.
As we age, there may be additional barriers that make us lose our appetites such as a reduction in our sense of smell and taste, dental issues, medication side effects that may cause fatigue and nausea and barriers that are more physical, such as being less able to go to the supermarket or cook healthy meals.
What is a suitable diet for the elderly?
It is necessary for an elderly person’s diet’s to be balanced and consist of carbohydrate-rich foods such as brown rice and cereals, protein-rich foods such as salmon, beans and chicken and fruits and vegetables. Additionally, intaking foods that are high in omega-3 can help reduce inflammation and slow down the progression of certain diseases. Good sources of omega-3 include fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon and sardines. If you are vegetarian, you can also find omega-3 in flaxseeds and walnuts. Aim for around two portions of omega-3 fatty acids a week.
As we age our bodies become less good at maintaining some of our vital bodily processes. One common problem in elderly people is osteoporosis or brittle bones. Calcium-rich foods can help to maintain healthy bones since if we do not intake enough calcium in our diet, then our body reabsorbs calcium from our bones. Calcium-rich foods include milk, yoghurt and cheese. You can also find cereals that have been fortified with calcium. If you struggle to absorb calcium your GP may recommend you take calcium as a supplement.
Fibre is important for our digestive systems since it helps to promote digestion. With age, our digestive system can slow down so some older people find eating foods rich in fibre helps them to maintain regular bowel movements. These foods have also shown to reduce to risk of heart disease. Some foods that are high in fibre include nuts, wholegrain cereal, brown rice, pasta and bread, as well as fruits and vegetables. Prunes are good to eat since they help to prevent constipation and they also contain potassium which helps promote healthy digestion.
On the topic of potassium, this is a very important mineral that can be found in bananas, prunes and potatoes. The right balance of potassium is important as too much can result in muscle tingling and heart palpitations, whereas too little can cause muscle weakness, cramps, nausea and can also cause depression and confusion. Being dehydrated can lead to low potassium, whereas reduction in kidney function, as a result of ageing, can lead to less excretion of potassium and therefore high potassium levels. It all sounds a bit confusing but your GP would be able to advise on any changes you need to make to your diet. Magnesium is a crucial mineral that helps with multiple physiological functions. We may become less good at absorbing magnesium as we age and if we are on certain medications. Foods such as whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables are rich in magnesium, but supplements can also be taken. Speak to your GP for recommendations of whether you need additional potassium in your diet.
Iron is essential for haemoglobin, which is a protein that carries oxygen in the blood to your body. Iron deficiency is usually known as anaemia and causes tiredness. Foods rich in iron include liver, red meat, beans and nuts.
Important vitamins to get from the diet include Vitamin B12, found in foods such as marmite, milk and meat products. Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables can help repair bones, teeth and wound healing. It is also involved in the production of collagen which gives your skin elasticity. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium, and the skin generally produces it in response to sunlight exposure. Some foods that contain vitamin D include eggs and fish.
And finally, don’t forget water! It may not be food but it is essential to keep ourselves hydrated as part of a healthy diet. As we age our body may be less good at conserving water and thirst may decrease. This does not mean your body doesn’t need water. It can be helpful to drink small amounts of water throughout the day rather than a large amount in one go.
How elderly live-in care can help with dietary needs
Elderly live-in care services can help ensure that your loved one is taking in a varied diet that is nutritious. Healthy eating for the elderly is something a live-in carer will be experienced with and they will be able to work with your loved one to optimise a diet plan that is palatable and incorporates the different vitamins and minerals needed for your loved one. Dietary needs for the elderly are important to consider when receiving care in the home as this can help to bring your loved one’s energy levels up, it can help with sleep, physical health and mental health and provide a simple solution to an overall healthier lifestyle. By having a live-in carer, they can help keep enjoyable foods regular but also offer variability between meal choices.
Menu ideas for the elderly
Nutrition in the elderly is important to consider and can be challenging to follow at times. Menu ideas for the elderly can be a helpful way of providing ideas for carers and yourselves when thinking about helping your loved one with their cooking.
Here are some simple ideas:
- Porridge, honey and berries
- 2 Boiled eggs with wholegrain toast
- Yoghurt, honey, nuts and fruit
- Cheese, ham and tomato omelette
- Jacket potato with topping (tuna mayo, cheese and beans)
- Chicken and noodle soup
- Cottage pie
- Baked salmon with green beans and boiled potatoes
- Roast chicken, gravy, mashed potato and boiled carrots
- Peanut butter on toast
- A handful of nuts or dried fruit
- Crushed avocado and crackers
- Houmous and raw carrot batons
How can we help
At The Live in Care Company, we pride ourselves on helping you make arrangements for a live-in carer for the elderly via a hassle-free and straightforward process. Our helpful team can support you with getting the appropriate care for an elderly relative and we can discuss all of the care options available for you.
Our team will help you understand your options fully before matching you with a well-suited live-in carer.
Speak to one of our experts
Our friendly experts are here to help from 9am to 7pm, 7 days a week.
One important element to elderly live-in care is how this will impact a person’s diet and meal planning. Usually, if a person requires live-in care, this will mean that they may need assistance with everyday tasks, including cooking.