By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor.
The varied health concerns of seniors can make it difficult for caregivers to know how to manage their elderly loved one’s diet.
Is it normal for a senior to lose their appetite or weight for no obvious reason? What combination of vitamins and minerals does a senior really need? Are supplements safe?
Ruth Frechman, M.A., a registered dietician and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, debunks some common myths about senior nutrition and offers advice for caregivers:
1. “A senior can eat whatever they want.” Frechman feels that this misconception tops the list as one of the most common senior nutrition myths. “Proper nutrition is important at any age—how you eat affects how you age,” she says. The key for seniors, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is to look for foods that are low in calories, but high in nutrients. This includes: fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean sources of protein (fish, poultry beans, nuts)
2. “A senior’s nutritional needs don’t change when they get older.” Following this line of thought is a big mistake, according to Frechman. There are a few important tweaks older adults should make to their daily diets. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises seniors to cut back on their daily sodium intake, consume a higher volume of whole grains, increase their daily potassium intake, and eat foods fortified with vitamins D and B12.
3. “Dietary supplement pills are a safe way to make sure that a senior is getting all of their vitamins and minerals.” Grocery stores often devote several shelves to vitamin and mineral supplements, but caregivers should be careful when considering giving these pills to their elderly loved ones. Seniors who eat a balanced diet should be able to get all of their nutritional needs met from the food they eat. Using supplement pills to make up for a deficit in an elderly person’s diet may cause adverse reactions with prescription medications or cause them to overdose on a particular vitamin or mineral.
Taking a Bite Out of Senior Diet Myths originally appeared on AgingCare.com.