Proper nutrition is crucial for older adults. Follow these tips to help your loved one maintain healthy eating habits.
- Posted on Aug 12, 2020
Julie Hayes is the Content Manager at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging.
The adage “food is medicine” is rooted in truth. Proper nutrition is necessary to survival and provides a host of protections from various diseases and conditions. A healthy diet is especially important to older adults because they often have chronic conditions or illnesses, and immune responses weaken with age. But providing your loved one with essential nutrients has become more challenging in a number of ways due to Covid-19. These range from financial strains and limited food supplies to disruptions in programs that have previously offered meal services. There is a great deal you can do, however, to ensure that your loved one’s kitchen is properly stocked and that he or she is eating in a healthy manner.
By maintaining a proper diet, you can decrease your risk of the chronic conditions which may place you at higher risk for severe illness from Covid-19, like heart disease and diabetes. Nutritious foods also boost your body’s supply of vital disease-fighting vitamins, minerals and proteins. At the same time, when you don’t eat properly, your risk for heart conditions, diabetes, obesity, hypertension and other diseases and chronic conditions increases, which makes you more vulnerable to viruses. If you’re lacking essential vitamins and minerals, your immune system might weaken. Older adults with poor diets are at even higher risk, since immune responses naturally decrease with age. According to the CDC, older adults, especially those who are obese or have pre-existing conditions, are among the most at-risk populations for experiencing severe cases of Covid-19 that may lead to hospitalization, use of respirators or death.
Understanding the current challenges can be the first step toward forming a plan to make sure your loved one maintains a diet that is as healthy as possible.
What nutritional challenges has Covid-19 presented?
Ensuring a healthy diet requires some additional planning and effort under the current circumstances. Among the unique nutritional challenges that Covid-19 has brought about are:
What can you do to help your loved one maintain a proper diet?
By making good choices at the grocery store and encouraging some behavior changes in the home, you can take steps to see that your loved one continues to eat well.
When shopping for groceries, in addition to following proper safety guidelines, you can:
· Citrus fruits (grapefruit, oranges, limes, etc.)
When at home, you can:
Explore local services for additional assistance if you need them. That’s what home-delivered meal programs and food banks are for. Depending on your loved one’s circumstances, they can be excellent choices.