The Importance of Good Nutrition for the Elderly

As we all get older, there are numerous changes that occur in our bodies that change the way we think and feel about food and our diet. Alterations in our physical as well as our mental wellbeing can prevent individuals from maintaining a healthy weight and diet. The importance of eating a balanced diet has been made well-known through the media and various Public Health initiatives over the years – at Home Instead, we are also committed to educating families on the great importance of helping their loved ones achieve the right nutrition in their old age.

The Impact of Physical Changes on Nutrition

Your loved one may not be able to get around or leave the house as often as they once did, meaning daily tasks we deem simple, such as picking up groceries, are a lot more difficult for them nowadays. A decrease in motility makes such tasks less enjoyable and more of a challenge for elderly people, which can in turn lead to a reluctance to go to the shops and stock up the fridge with good, nutritious food.

As well as aches and pains impacting on mobility, elderly individuals often take many medications, some of which can impair their sense of taste or appetite. Various surgeries, illnesses and medical treatments can lead to a decline in your family member’s desire to eat and enjoy food.

If your relative is living with a condition such as dementia, remembering and being able to prepare balanced meals and stay hydrated is much more of a feat. They may need a helping hand in the grocery store and in the kitchen to enable they get the correct nutrients in the right amounts to stay healthy.

As our bodies get older, they may also lose the ability to absorb certain nutrients we get from our diet. The British Nutrition Foundation advise that elderly people should be regularly eating foods containing vitamin D (for example oily fish or some breakfast cereals) – it is often the case that your loved one needs help preparing such foods as they get older.

The Impact of Mental and Social Changes on Nutrition

Given the nature of our ageing population in the UK, older individuals see and experience a great deal of bereavement and the loss of people close to them over time. The stress and emotional impact of bereavement, personal illness and the illness of loved ones can have a surprisingly negative impact on your elderly parent’s appetite and enjoyment of food.

Linked with stress in old age, loneliness can be a real problem for elderly individuals who feel isolated because of their age and/or medical condition. Poor mental health and state of mind can have a serious knock-on effect on energy and appetite – essentially, loneliness and stress can lead to circumstances such as older people neglecting to eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated.

How Can Home Instead Help?

All of the factors listed above can have detrimental effects on the health and wellbeing of individuals of an older age. Malnutrition and dehydration are rife amongst elderly people who do not have the correct care in place. Thankfully, the CAREgivers at Home Instead are expertly-trained in the importance of good nutrition and the ways in which we can encourage your elderly parent to maintain a healthy diet and weight and help you keep an eye on their nutritional health at home. For more information on what to look out for, take a look at the advice on our website and the ‘Stay Nourished’ brochure you will find there.

Home Instead Wandsworth, Lambeth & Dulwich are committed to helping you and your family guide your elderly relative down the right path when it comes to nutrition. As well as providing you with CAREgivers who will intimately get to know your loved one’s preferences and dietary needs, our latest campaign involves assisting you on how to help your family member in the home too. Eating a balanced diet can be a pleasure and we want to help your relative realise that again.

For more information on the care and nutritional support we provide at Home Instead Wandsworth, Lambeth & Dulwich, call us today on 0208 871 0006 or get in touch here.