What Nutrients Are Most Essential for Elderly People?

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Though it’s important to eat right at any age, there are specific nutrients seniors need for good health. Because many seniors have diminished appetites or dietary restrictions, it’s important that the food they eat is optimized for nutrition. Check over your aging loved one’s diet and make sure it contains enough of these key nutrients that are necessary for seniors.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Many seniors are deficient in calcium and vitamin D because with age, the intestines don’t absorb calcium as efficiently and the skin loses some of its ability to synthesize vitamin D from the sun. Calcium and vitamin D are important for healthy bones, and seniors are at high risk of bone loss. Yogurt, milk, fortified nut milk, and canned fish that have soft bones are all good calcium sources. Make sure the milk your loved one drinks is fortified with vitamin D, or consider talking with his or her doctor about a supplement.

Potassium

According to the American Heart Association, 69.1 percent of men and 67.9 percent of women over the age of 60 have high blood pressure. High blood pressure can put additional strain on your loved one’s heart and kidneys, which may contribute to cardiovascular and kidney disease. Getting enough potassium each day can lower blood pressure levels. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and beans are all high in potassium. Cantaloupe, avocados, and bananas are especially high in the essential nutrient. Make sure the canned goods your loved one eats are “no sodium” or “low sodium” varieties, as the additional salt may increase swelling and blood pressure levels. 

High blood pressure, if not controlled, can have catastrophic effects, including heart attacks and strokes. If your loved one has difficulty managing high blood pressure or any other medical issue, a professional home caregiver can be a huge help. Some seniors only require help with a few daily tasks so they can maintain their independence. However, those living with serious illnesses may need more extensive assistance. Luckily, there is professional live-in care Milwaukee, WI, seniors can rely on. Home can be a safer and more comfortable place for your loved one to live with the help of an expertly trained and dedicated live-in caregiver.

Vitamin B12

A study published in the March 2010 edition of Nutrients estimates that 20 percent of seniors are deficient in vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential in maintaining the function of nerve cells and in the production of red blood cells. Without enough vitamin B12, your loved one may experience:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tingling
  • Poor balance
  • Memory loss

Make sure your loved one gets enough vitamin B12 each day by including fortified cereals, lean meats, eggs, and fish in his or her diet. Because vitamin B12 is found in animal products, talk with a doctor about a supplement if your loved one follows a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle. 

If your loved one experiences any of the symptoms listed above, make sure he or she gets a thorough medical examination. If the symptoms are due to a more serious condition that makes it unsafe or unhealthy to age in place alone, help is available. The type of home care Milwaukee, WI, seniors need can vary. Some need assistance a few hours a day, while others require more extensive around-the-clock assistance. At Home Care Assistance, we tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual care needs, and the plans can be adjusted at any time.

Magnesium

Magnesium plays a role in over 300 body functions, including keeping the immune system strong and the cardiovascular system functioning properly. Though magnesium is found in a variety of foods, the cooking process causes magnesium to be lost, so it’s best to aim for fresh fruits and vegetables and non-roasted nuts. Dried figs, bananas, avocados, spinach, and pumpkin seeds are all high in magnesium.

Good nutrition is especially important for us as we get older, and certain nutrients are particularly essential for seniors. If your loved one has difficulty shopping for food, preparing nutritious meals, or managing other aspects of a healthy lifestyle, consider adding a professional caregiver to your family’s caregiving team. In Milwaukee, home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at Milwaukee (414) 964-8000 or Waukesha (262) 782-3383.