Common Barriers to Senior Nutrition and Tips to Overcome Them

Senior NutritionMost of us can’t wait to sit down to enjoy a delicious meal – the comforting smells, the tastes, the satisfying feeling of a full stomach. For many seniors, though, a variety of health issues can prevent their enjoyment of food or even their ability to shop for nutritious foods, often leading to malnutrition. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers several solutions to some of the most common senior nutrition problems, including:

Difficulties with chewing: For older adults who struggle with chewing food well, meats and fresh vegetables and even fruits can cause a problem. The FDA suggests the following substitutes:

  • Rather than fresh fruit, try fruit juice, applesauce, or canned peaches and pears instead.
  • Rather than raw veggies, try vegetable juices or mashed and cooked vegetables instead.
  • Rather than large pieces of meat, try ground meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products instead.
  • Rather than sliced bread, try cooked cereals, rice, bread pudding and soft cookies instead.

Stomach upset: An abundance of gas, acid reflux, and other gastrointestinal issues may cause older adults to avoid foods they think may cause a problem. As a result, they could be missing out on critical nutrients, such as vitamins, calcium, fiber, and protein. The FDA suggests:

  • Rather than drinking milk, try alternate dairy foods that may not upset the stomach, such as cream soups, pudding, yogurt, or cheese.
  • Try vegetable juices, carrots and potatoes, which are easier to digest, in place of vegetables such as cabbage or broccoli.
  • Replace fresh fruit with soft canned fruits or fruit juice.

Shopping problems: Many older adults who no longer drive or have other mobility issues have difficulty shopping for themselves. When the inability to shop for groceries becomes a nutrition hurdle, the FDA recommends:

  • Checking with a local store or market to see if they can deliver groceries to the home.
  • Asking for volunteer shopping assistance from a local church, synagogue or volunteer center.
  • Enlisting the help of a family member or neighbor.
  • Partnering with a local home care agency, such as the Fort Madison home health care team at Advanced Home Health Care, for shopping assistance.

Unable to cook: Difficulty with cooking can result from cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, problems with holding cooking utensils or trouble standing upright for extended periods of time. If the inability to cook is a problem:

  • Try using a microwave to heat TV dinners, other frozen foods and pre-made foods by the store.
  • Request cooking assistance from a Fort Madison, IA home health care agency, like Advanced Home Health Care, whose caregivers can plan and prepare healthy meals in the senior’s home.
Appetite loss: Older adults who live by themselves can feel lonely at mealtimes, which can result in loss of appetite. They may also not feel up to preparing a meal for just themselves, or medications that they take may be affecting how the food tastes. For issues such as these, the FDA suggests:
  • Eating meals with family and friends if possible.
  • Participating in group meal programs offered through local senior centers.
  • Talking to the physician about whether or not medication might be causing a problem.
  • Contacting a local home care agency, such as Advanced Home Health Care, for a companion to both prepare meals and make meal time a social activity.

Good nutrition is vitally important, no matter the age. If you have a senior loved one who is struggling to overcome age-related nutrition barriers, contact the Fort Madison, IA home health care team at Advanced Home Health Care. We can plan and prepare delicious, healthy meals and help improve your loved one’s nutrition in a number of ways!

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