Eating Healthy As a caregiver, do you know whether Mom or Dad is getting adequate amounts of nutrients based on their medical condition?
There are so many diets out there, including low fat and low-cholesterol diets, high-fiber diets, lactose-intolerant diets as well as high-fiber or gluten free or restricted diets.
If you're a caregiver or just checking in on Mom and Dad once in awhile, it's a good idea to be aware of their nutritional intake.Whether Dad has to be on a bland diet due to stomach troubles or Mom is on an allergy or food sensitivity diet, it's important to know basic requirements, restrictions, and foods that they should avoid.
In addition to the above, individuals may need to be on restricted calorie diets depending on their weight, whether they're diabetic, and if they're trying to gain or lose weight. Individuals sensitive to dairy or egg products must be especially careful, as are those who have been placed on a low-sodium, diabetic or cardiac diet.
Depending on your caregiving situation, you may need to guide and monitor what Mom and Dad are eating. Whenever possible, talk to them about their doctors' visits, conditions, and food suggestions and restrictions. If you're a caregiver of an elderly parent, it's important for you to follow the dietary guidelines provided by your Mom's doctor or her licensed nutritional expert or dietitian.
If Mom isn't getting enough vitamins or minerals in her food, she may experience general fatigue, vision problems, weak muscle tone, or digestive problems. Many seniors are unaware of the required daily nutritional intake for proteins, carbs, fats, and fruit and vegetable servings.
Talk to your parents' doctor about specific guidelines for Mom or Dad's current state of health, any medical conditions, or those that require weight loss or weight gain. You may also find adequate senior nutritional information in calories and servings of different types of foods through online resources such as the Food and Drug Administration and web sites like ChooseMyPlate.gov
If you don't cook for your parents or otherwise help with meal preparation, check in on them once in awhile. Talk to them about adequate nutrition and the importance of eating enough calories for optimal physical and mental well-being. Ask your parents to show you their refrigerator or cupboard so you can get a better idea of what they're eating and if they are eating healthy. This may not always be feasible, or possible, so do your best to gauge your parents' overall health, vigor, energy levels, and behavior.
Lack of adequate nutrition may be observed not only through weight loss, but also in increased fatigue, lack of concentration, and overall general aches and pains like headaches, all of which may be caused by dehydration or nutritional deficiencies.
Make sure that Mom or Dad has plenty of fresh fruits on hand, or in the wintertime, ensure they have access to unsweetened canned fruits or juices. The leading contributing factor to adult malnutrition is budgetary constraints. Seniors living on a fixed income must often choose between purchasing medications, paying doctor or hospital co-pays, utilities or groceries.
If you feel that Mom or Dad may need help with their food purchases, consider chipping in and helping them pay for groceries on a weekly or monthly basis. Enlist siblings, other family members and friends to donate one or two pre-made dinners or groceries several times a month. This will help immensely.
Five family members or friends doing so will not only keep the senior's cupboards full, but also offer them a variety of foods throughout the month.
Find ways to help your parents eat well and make sure their nutritional needs are being met.
You may need to be creative in order to maintain their pride and dignity. Many seniors don't want their adult children or friends to know they're not getting what they need, so be especially tactful when broaching such topics. The bottom line is to understand nutritional basics, calorie intake and dietary restrictions for your elderly parents and, whenever possible, do what you can to make sure that such needs are being met.