As the years roll by, life seems to go full circle, and we find ourselves taking care of and worrying about those parents and elderly relatives who took care of and worried about us in our childhood. Ironically, one of the biggest individual concerns also goes full circle – trying to encourage them to eat the right things and get all the nutrients they need. Recent research published by Gauhati Medical College provided the shocking statistic that 15 percent of 360 senior citizens assessed in the study were suffering from malnutrition.
A healthy and nutritious diet is critical for seniors who want to remain mentally and physically healthy. The trouble is, many senior citizens suffer from a poor appetite, and in a country where a large proportion of the community is vegetarian, there are extra considerations when it comes to providing adequate nutrition for our elderly. However, it is not as difficult as you might think. Here we take a look at three of the most important nutrients for the elderly, along with some delicious vegetarian foods where they can be found.
Potassium has a whole host of benefits. It is great for strong bones, which is essential for the elderly in the prevention of conditions such as osteoporosis, and also helps to regulate blood pressure. Potassium can also be found in a variety of everyday vegetables and fruits, including potatoes (especially the skins), bananas, prunes and plums. A potato bowl chaat dish is rich in potassium and is great for a light meal or snack.
Most people associate folic acid with expectant mothers, but it is also hugely important for the elderly, having been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of dementia. It occurs naturally in green leafy vegetables including broccoli, spinach and peas, so if your loved one is fond of saag paneer, that is a great source of folic acid.
Another famous mineral, but perhaps one more associated with children, as it is great for teeth and bones. As we mentioned earlier, though, this is also an important consideration in the elderly, who are more prone to osteoporosis. Everyone knows that milk is a great source of calcium, but it can also be found in many green vegetables, including spinach, kale and broccoli. Try a kale subzi as a side dish – great with chapatis or rice.
Taking care of loved ones
The circularity of life can sometimes seem a little sad, but we should cherish the opportunity to repay the love and care we received in our formative years. Follow the above tips to provide the nutrition your elderly loved ones need, and enjoy these special years together.
About the author
Jane Sandwood is a content manager with Vida. She is passionate about nutrition, care for the elderly and senior citizens.