Nutrition is an important concern for many seniors, their families and/or caretakers. Seniors are often confused by their changing appetites and eating patterns. A weakened or distorted sense of taste can cause trouble for a senior. Because of diminishing taste buds, they often crave foods that are salty or sweet, neither of which is healthful for them. This problem can also cause a loss of appetite, leading to poor nutrition, chronic illness, and inappropriate weight loss.
Enter nutritional milkshakes.
Nutritional supplements and shakes have been on the market for decades, and some are specially touted as high-calorie solutions to seniors’ nutrition problems. As an RN, I have been in the unique position of recommending, providing, and even practically forcing seniors to drink nutritional supplement milkshakes that both taste horrible and provide little real nutrition because without them, the weight loss and susceptibility to illness continues.
Current school of thought suggests that those products are merely covering up issues that could be resolved for the health, happiness, and enjoyment of seniors. Lack of appetite can sometimes be reversed by addressing other treatable conditions such as depression, dementia, ulcers, or even ill-fitting dentures.
Since taste is governed by the sense of smell, often doctors can help patients recover some of their senses by addressing simple issues such as colds, flu, or seasonal allergies.
Juicing for Seniors
Juicing is a simple way to get more vegetables into anyone’s diet, and it can play a role in restoring and maintaining proper health among senior citizens. Since the amount of minerals and vitamins is concentrated, one can get the benefits without consuming huge quantities. This is so important when one’s appetite is suppressed or diminished.
The digestion period is much faster with juicing than with digesting solid food. Adding fresh raw juice to your diet provides an abundance of natural enzymes which can lead to better digestion and improved immunity. Juicing for seniors can make a tremendous difference in healthy living.
What is a good plan for seniors who live alone?
There is good news for seniors who are otherwise capably maintaining their own households. They can feel hopeful, knowing that their loss of appetite may have solvable underlying causes.
While they begin working with their physician to investigate the problem, they can safely begin making juices once or twice a day. The best time would be on an empty stomach, about an hour before regular meal time. By simply drinking a juice—made from fresh, real food—they are guaranteeing their body nutrients that it needs to remain strong and vibrant.
What is a good plan for elderly parents who live with their adult children?
If the adult child prepares all of the parents’ meals, the child should begin introducing simple vegetable juices in a respectful, calm manner. Ideally they would be juices to be consumed before meals. But if the parent is really not eating anything, they can experiment with making smoothies based on the juice, or adding vegetable or fruit thickeners until a palatable consistency is reached.
If the parents are capable of helping themselves, adult children could prepare juices daily and leave them in a container in the refrigerator for the parent. Caution: the nutritional value diminishes quickly, so juices should not be refrigerated for more than 24 hours in such cases.
General caution for all senior citizens:
Be aware that fruit juice has high sugar content. Add fruit to your juicing for taste and palatability, but be careful not to overdo the sugar.
As always, a physician should be consulted before making any radical changes to a patient’s diet if they are on blood-thinners, or cholesterol or diabetes medication. Many green juices can interact with medications, but for the most part, juicing carrots, apples, pears, oranges, and berries are safe for most people (as long as they are not diabetic). For diabetics, juices should be blended with protein powder and low-fat yogurt to balance the sugar.
So, like many things involved in the love and care of the elderly, starting a juicing plan will require thought and planning, but the rewards—a better daily outlook and life due to better nutrition—are worth it.
And more importantly, you may be able to skip those nasty nutritional supplement milkshakes.
I hope you’ll come back again tomorrow. I’ll be sharing about some of my favorite so called “superfoods” to include in your juicing and blending recipes.
Blend of the Day
Today, my recipe will include juicing and blending to give your senior plenty of nutritional support and keep blood sugar levels even. This recipe is both nutritious and delicious.
- 1 small handful spinach
- 1 celery rib
- 1/2 cucumber
- 1 inch slice pineapple
- 2 small apples
- 1 lemon
- flesh or 1/2 – 1 avocado
- Wash all produce well
- Peel the lime and pineapple and core the apples
- Add first 6 ingredients through juicer
- Add your juice into a blender, add the avocado, blend until creamy, and enjoy! (I recommend Breville)
Yield: 20 oz
Variation: feel free to add plain yogurt and/or sugar-free vegan protein powder to bump up the nutritional support if your senior is diabetic or is not eating well.