Living well is a hope many family caregivers hold for their senior loved ones as they age in place.
The reality for aging in place adults is that staying healthy is not always easy to achieve.
With aging comes obstacles to good health that seniors may need the help of family caregivers to overcome.
Eating adequate amounts of nourishing foods, staying physically active, remaining mentally engaged, maintaining health with regular disease management, and avoiding situations that put them at risk are points that concern family caregivers and seniors.
How can family caregivers and seniors do all those things? Will old habits need to be broken and new healthier lifestyle choices be made to remain well?
The well-being of family caregivers is important – and too often overlooked. They must stay at the peak of health to care for the older adults they love, as well as other family, and often career, responsibilities.
Nutritional choices are key to remaining healthy but one area where we often find gaps that put health at risk for all of us. Some may think making healthier choices means big changes, such as giving up your favorite foods, but filling some of those gaps is probably easier than you think.
One option that is not only simple but tasty too is drinking Ensure High Protein Shakes. This choice can benefit your nutritional health.
Meeting Nutritional Needs As We Age
Getting older doesn’t mean that we don’t need to eat right to get the nutrients our bodies need for health.
As we age, nutrient needs for protein, vitamins, minerals, and water may actually increase as our bodies become less efficient in utilizing the nutrients we consume.
Did you know that the Institute of Medicine recommends the same amount of protein for older adults as for younger adults? Experts estimate that about one third of adults over 50 years of age fail to meet the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for protein!
The RDA for protein for people of all ages is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight but more research has shown that 1.0-1.5 grams per kilogram of protein will help prevent muscle loss and functional decline as we age.
That means a person who weighs 180 pounds should eat 65 to 80 or 120 grams of protein per day. The best way to use this protein is to be sure to eat it evenly throughout the day at each meal and snack. An easy guide is to eat 25 to 30 grams of high-quality protein per meal.
One nutritious and tasty option to help you or your loved one increase protein intake is to add Ensure High Protein shakes to your day for a snack or drink. They have 16 grams of protein and 23 essential vitamins and minerals in an 8 oz. shake.
Obstacles to Adequate Nutrient Absorption
There are several barriers for older adults to getting enough nutrients even when seniors or family caregivers are eating a good variety of foods.
Research shows a better diet helps physical health, cognitive status, bone health, eye health, vascular function, and immune system as we get older.
Consequences of Inadequate Nutrition
Not getting all the nutrients our bodies need can negatively impact our well-being.
Good nutrition helps aging in place seniors to maintain their independent functional abilities to complete activities of daily living such as self-care and mobility.
It is not uncommon for seniors to suffer from sarcopenia when they don’t get enough protein in their diet. Sarcopenia is defined as the unintentional loss of skeletal muscle tissue with age. It is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults. It affects 1 in 3 people over 60 years and more than half of those over 80 years.
Researchers have found that for every year over age 50 we lose 1% of our lean body mass. This equals up to 25% of our muscle mass by the time we are 70 years old!
We’ve all heard ‘when you don’t use it, you lose it’ and that is true of our muscles. The lack of physical activity changes our muscle mass but so does inadequate nutrition.
A consequence of inadequate protein intake is loss of muscle mass which can contribute to falls potentially leading to the loss of independent living.
Minding Your Muscles
Your body is 50-60% comprised of muscle! Protein is essential to repair and build muscle. To keep our muscles from wasting away, seniors and family caregivers should be including enough protein to meet their daily requirements.
Here are ways to mind your muscles to get enough protein each day:
Include a source of protein at each meal such as eggs, beef, poultry, pork, fish, beans or dairy.
3-ounce piece of meat contains about 21 grams of protein; 1 cup of milk contains about 8 grams of protein; and 1 cup of dry beans contains about 16 grams of protein
Drink cow’s milk with meals (some soy and nut milks don’t contain protein equal to cow’s milk).
Include snacks that have protein such as cheese, nuts, hummus, or Greek yogurt.
When food sources of protein aren’t enough, add a nutritional supplement such as Ensure High Protein to provide needed protein, vitamins, and minerals. Ensure is the #1 Doctor recommended brand* and is formulated to help older adults stay active and strong.
Aging in place requires seniors to remain independent, healthy and functional. Eating right and including enough of the building blocks for good nutrition will help you and your senior loved one live strong!