Did you know that by the age of 70, the average person can lose up to 40% of their muscle mass and 30% of their strength? While it is no surprise that a nutritious and well balanced diet is essential to fighting disease especially as we age, eating the right foods can help maintain muscle mass and strength to ensure a healthier, more independent future. In fact, the simple act of adding protein to one’s diet can help minimize the risk for fractures, frailty, muscle breakdown, weakness and even mental decline with age.
At Toronto Home Care Assistance, we understand that one of the leading causes of not getting enough protein for seniors is lack of appetite. Although common, this can cause seniors and elderly to miss out on valuable nutrients essential to optimal health. If you have an aging parent and you are concerned about their caloric intake or lack of activity as a result of improper nutrition, check out these simple tips for how to add protein to their diet.
- Offer an appealing variety of foods. No matter what your age, you are going to want to eat and will enjoy eating foods that are appealing to you. Keep this in mind while helping your loved one with grocery shopping and meal preparation. There are a variety of protein rich foods available including chicken, beef, fish, pork, nuts and dairy which can be incorporated into meals throughout the week to offer variety while helping to control muscle deterioration. Protein filled beverages are another option such as chocolate milk with about 8 grams of protein, orange juice with 2 grams of protein and smoothies which can offer 20+ grams of protein when made with whole milk, fresh fruits and yogurt.
- Stick with easy-to-digest proteins. This is especially important when an older person is recovering from an illness or surgery or suffers from an advanced condition such as dementia or Parkinson’s where associated symptoms make mealtime difficult. Opt for lean meats such as chicken and turkey, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese and soybeans which can promote comfort by keeping strain off the digestive system. When preparing these items, try to avoid adding spices or acidic flavors which can be more difficult to digest with age, causing a cycle of avoidance and weight loss. For more information about specialty care, learn about advanced Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia home care in Toronto.
- Enhance food with additional protein. Because older adults feel full after eating smaller quantities, more nutrient-dense food is needed. Add bite-size pieces of meat to pasta or rice dishes, and a handful of nuts or seeds to salads for an instant protein punch. Non-fat dry milk is also a great additive that has 3 grams of protein and can be sprinkled into soups and sauces. Four tablespoons of dry milk added to one cup of whole milk can also provide for an undetectable boost of protein.
- Offer supplemental beverages. Commercial beverages are available for those who cannot maintain a good appetite. These drinks are dairy free, so lactose intolerance is not an issue. They contain an average 10-15 grams of protein, and can be added to recipes, or used as a snack. It is best to consult with your loved one’s doctor or primary care physician to select the right supplemental beverage that will not harm overall health.
Protein is an important component of a senior’s diet and should be incorporated as much as possible. If you are interested in other senior nutrition tips, don’t hesitate to contact Home Care Assistance of Toronto today. Specializing in live-in care in Toronto, we can provide your aging loved one with the assistance and support they need to live a happy and healthy life from the comfort of home. Dial 416-488-8777 to speak with a devoted Care Manager and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.