Simple Diets for Elderly People

Diets for elderly people sometimes get a bad reputation or are the punch line of jokes, referring to creamy oatmeal and Jell-O as “old people foods.” However, there’s a reason why an older generation of people is prone to eating and enjoying different food groups than the younger counterparts.

Understanding that as we age our bodies require a different level of attention, nutrients, and energy consumption is essential for maintaining good health as older adults.  This usually requires making some changes in our diet and also our eating habits in some cases.

Diets for Elderly People Made Easy

As an older individual being healthy should be the priority.  In order to stay healthy or begin a healthier food regimen your diet needs to be well rounded.  Having a varied diet that includes protein, fat, and starches is most beneficial to feeding our bones, organs, and muscles the nutrients they need to survive.

If you're relatively healthy, active, and do not have any major health disorders that would restrict food consumption, the information below can help you balance your meals and maintain good health.

What you should consider eating:

  • Bread, Cereal, Rice Pasta:  When it comes to this food group, look for the ones made from whole grain.   They’re an excellent source of dietary fiber, B vitamins and iron.   These are important in an elderly diet.  
  • Fruits and Vegetables:  They can be frozen, canned, or fresh.  They’re rich in vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin A and are an excellent source of dietary fiber.  Regardless of their form, you will benefit from consuming them consistently especially the colorful ones like the dark greens for example.
  • Milk, Yogurt, Cheese: Dairy is essential to the functioning of your bones.  Opt for lower fat options so that your fat intake does not affect your cholesterol level negatively. 
  • Protein:  Be it chicken breast, canned tuna, lentils, dry beans or eggs don’t cheat yourself of the energy you’ll get from having 2-3 servings from this food group.
  • Water:  Hydration is the key to a healthy and functioning body. If you drink only one thing, it should be water or drinks created from water like tea or coffee without the caffeine, added sugar or cream.

Following the suggested guidelines in a healthy diet can protect the elderly from issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or stroke.

You should discuss your diet with your health professional.  People with health issues may need to exclude certain foods from their diet or follow specific instructions based on their particular condition.

Elderly Health Problems Addressed with Adequate Diets

Many diseases, disorders, or overall elderly health problems are the result of poor nutrition. The following health problems can be addressed by following an adequate diet.

  • Various forms of cancer (colon, prostate, breast, liver, etc.)
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Blood pressure elevation
  • Stroke risk
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Degenerative diseases

As we continue to get older and focus on what we can do to benefit our health, we should adapt to diets for elderly people that meet our individual needs.  The added bonus of tackling potential health risks should solidify our good dietary choices.

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Related Links:

The Journal of Nutrition: “Modified Food Guide Pyramid for People of 70 Years of Age.”
World Health Organization: "Nutrition for Older Persons."