For reasons like depression, apathy or financial hardship, the diets of many older Americans lack the essential nutrients their bodies so desperately need. Some aging in place seniors suffer from malnutrition, a condition that can place their independence at risk.
While serving as an informal caregiver, preventing your loved one from becoming malnourished must be a priority. If it’s hard to get them to eat like they should here are some heart healthy snacks that might do the trick.
Why Do Seniors Get Malnourished?
Malnutrition in seniors is usually caused by not eating enough heart healthy foods or snacks throughout the day, or by eating too many foods that lack essential nutrients. The most common reasons why that occurs include:
- Chewing and swallowing difficulties
- Acute and chronic illnesses
- Age-related physiological changes that affect smell, taste and appetite
- Dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Substance abuse
- Limited income
- Depression caused by loneliness, grief or poor health
- Mobility and transportation issues
Health problems caused by malnutrition
If not addressed malnutrition can cause these serious health problems in the elderly:
- Muscle weakness and bone density loss that makes falls and fractures more likely
- Weakened immune system leading to higher infection rates
- Slower wound healing rates
- Greater likelihood to be hospitalized
- Increased mortality risk
Snacks Seniors Should Avoid
Notably if your senior has a chronic health condition like diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure, they should avoid unhealthy snacks like:
Prepackaged snacks – Although these are convenient, prepackaged snacks oftentimes contain high amounts of salt, sugar and synthetic additives.
Cookies and pastries – High in sugar, these desserts should be avoided because they can cause or worsen diabetes.
Chips and crackers – Full of salt and saturated fats, these snacks can exacerbate heart-related conditions and raise blood pressure.
Try these Heart Healthy Snacks Instead
Supplying your loved one with these nutritious snacks will help ensure that they remain healthier and happier for many years to come:
Fresh veggies are not only chocked full of essential vitamins and minerals, but they are also colorful and stimulating to the senses. Prior to your next visit, cut up some carrots, broccoli and cucumbers and store them in a Tupperware container. Then, place the container in your loved one’s fridge so they have something healthy to snack on while watching TV or reading a book.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds make great substitutes for chips and crackers because they satisfy the craving for something crunchy and supply the body with healthy fats and protein- rather than harmful saturated fats and salt.
Reduced activity causes many seniors to experience constipation, while dehydration is possible as sense-of-thirst diminishes. Fresh fruit is a great antidote for both those problems because it delivers a healthy dose of fiber and hydrating juices. It’s also a natural way to satisfy a sweet tooth while supplying the body with antioxidants.
Store-bought granola bars are handy, but most contain synthetic additives and preservatives. Make your own granola treats by mixing oats, nuts and seeds with pure maple syrup and then bake the ingredients in the oven. To liven things up create a nutritious cereal with some low-fat milk or almond milk.
Raisins and prunes
Raisins and prunes provide fiber that assists with digestion and constipation. They are also a chewy, tasty treat that helps fight harmful bacteria that causes gum disease and cavities.
Hard-boiled eggs make a convenient, simple snack that’s rich in essential protein. Look for antibiotic-free eggs from range-raised chickens that contain Omega-3 fatty acids, along with Vitamins D, E and B12.
Reliable In-Home Nutritional Support for Seniors
Making sure that an aging loved one eats healthier can be hard when you’re busy or live far away. Put your mind at ease by contacting Help At Home, where our qualified health professionals are highly proficient at providing in-home nutritional support including meal planning, cooking and feeding assistance. At Help At Home, our compassionate caregivers use a unique, highly personalized approach that’s designed to ensure client satisfaction and restore peace of mind.
In addition to nutritional support, our reliable professionals can perform in-home services like personal care, respite care, transitional care, medication assistance, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, and end-of-life care. With over 20 years of experience, we take pride in matching your loved one with a qualified caregiver that’s compatible with their unique personality and needs. To learn more about Help At Home now, or to contact us about a senior in Virginia, Maryland or the Washington, DC, metro area today, please visit: www.helpathomecare.com!