Older adults often experience muscle loss, which can leave them feeling weaker and may cause seniors to avoid being as active as possible. If that’s something that you recognize in your senior, it’s possible that she’s not eating enough protein. Proper protein intake can help your elderly family member to maintain her existing muscle tone more readily, which can pay off in lowering her fall risk and improving her overall quality of life.
Talk to Her Doctor about How Much Protein She Needs
Every person has different needs for protein, so it’s important to talk to your senior’s doctor about whether she’s eating enough protein for her specific needs. Her doctor can help you to determine the best sources of protein for your senior and can offer tips that help you to put together a plan for her. Even if your senior thinks she’s eating plenty of protein, she might be surprised to find that she could use just a bit more.
Track Nutrition in a Food Diary
To start, you’ll probably want to track your senior’s meals for a few days in a food diary. Using a meal tracking app might also be helpful, because it can do the calculations of protein, carbohydrates, and fat for you. Reducing the workload can help your senior to stick with the tracking for longer than a day or two.
Choose a Variety of Protein Options
Protein from multiple sources helps to ensure that your elderly family member is getting a variety of nutrients. Animal proteins like fatty fish and poultry are excellent choices, but don’t forget plant proteins. Legumes, nuts, quinoa, and more all have high protein counts, too. They can also offer vitamins, minerals, and fiber that your senior needs.
Protein Supplements Might Help, Too
Depending on your senior’s needs, her doctor might recommend protein supplements. That might mean using pre-made protein shakes that are low in added salt and sugar or making protein shakes from scratch. This option can be a good one if your elderly family member has trouble eating some foods or if she really doesn’t like some foods that would give her the protein she needs.
Trying to add more protein to her diet might feel overwhelming for your senior, especially if she’s used to cooking and eating a more limited diet. Having help from home care providers with meal preparation ensures that meals are easy and ready for her to just eat and to enjoy.