Helping Seniors with a High Protein Diet

Author: Kay Jurica

Did you know that a diet high in protein is incredibly important for seniors? Protein is particularly important right before medical procedures or surgery and can help the healing time during an acute illness when the body doesn’t digest protein as easily. For our seniors, they especially need high-protein diets to maintain good bone density and muscle mass!

However, research has shown that a third of senior adults are not getting adequate amounts of protein in their diets. It’s due to several reasons, including:

  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Taste impairments
  • Limitations financially
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dental problems

The problem is compounded even more because older adults tend to not be as active in their lifestyle, and this can make the lack of protein consumption even more pronounced. Some of the damaging impacts can include:

  • Decreased mobility
  • Decreased muscles mass
  • Weak bone density
  • Longer times of recovery after illness or medical procedures
  • Eventual loss of independence

Ready for some good news? Well, older seniors who do get the protein that is needed will be far more likely to avoid any or all of these problems! They will stay independent much longer and maintain their ability to do tasks like getting dressed, seeing to their hygiene needs, climbing stairs, and even walking! A study at Purdue University states that “While eating an adequate amount of protein is not going to prevent age-associated loss of muscle altogether, not eating enough protein can be an exacerbating factor that causes older adults to lose muscle faster.”

The study also shows us that whenever possible, protein intake should come from natural food sources, rather than supplements like shakes. A good number to shoot for with protein consumption on a daily basis is about .8 grams of protein for every 2.2 pounds of body weight. This would mean that a woman weighing 120 lbs. should have 48 grams of protein each day. If seniors are already going through the aforementioned challenges, they can increase the protein to 1.5 grams per 2.2 pounds.

How do we increase protein naturally?

Here are some excellent food options that are rich in protein:

  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Lentils and beans
  • Chicken
  • Meat
  • Milk
  • Broccoli

Of course, you should always consult with the treating physician before changing your older loved one’s diet, but this guide can give you the general things to be aware of. Having your fridge stocked with items that are rich in protein, along with pre-cooked healthy meals high in nutrition can make a world of difference. Don’t forget healthy snacks too!

For more information and support on your senior’s dietary needs, please contact us today! We can help with meal preparation and other plans to make sure your senior loved one stays as healthy as possible for as long as possible!

Home Helpers of Bourbonnais is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in Bourbonnais, Kankakee, Bradley, Manteno, Momence, Herscher, Watseka, Dwight, Braidwood, and Wilmington, Illinois.

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