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The Challenges of Eating Well in Senior Living

senior eating a balanced meal and overcoming the challenges of eating well in senior living

One of the biggest challenges facing seniors today is proper nutrition. Malnutrition occurs when individuals do not receive the appropriate nutrients to support essential bodily functions. While harmful at any age, malnutrition is especially problematic for seniors because it leaves them vulnerable to increased risks for falls, chronic illnesses, multiple hospitalizations, and possibly death. 

Nutrition counseling for seniors is crucial to our comprehensive wellness planning at Buckner Villas. We understand that seniors face unique challenges when it comes to eating well, and we’re here to help. Unlike some senior living facilities, we’re proud to offer food that is not only nutritious but also delicious. Our culinary professionals are not only highly trained but also passionate about sourcing fresh ingredients from our local community.

To learn more about our unique approach to senior nutrition, call 512.580.9882

Recognizing Common Challenges to Senior Nutrition

According to Feeding America, senior adults are the fastest-growing food-insecure population. The most common reason for food insecurity is income. Seniors with lower or fixed incomes tend to live in “food deserts,” where there is limited access to healthy, affordable food, and “food swamps,” where there is an abundance of fast food and little high-quality food. 

In addition to limited income and access to healthy food, other common challenges to senior nutrition include:

  • Reduced appetite – Eating engages our senses of sight, smell, and taste. These senses may diminish with age, resulting in a loss of appetite.
  • Chronic health conditions – Conditions like heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes require dietary modifications, and balancing these with overall nutrition is challenging.
  • Medications – Certain medications can impact taste, appetite, and the absorption of nutrients.
  • Mobility issues – Limited mobility can make it challenging to shop and cook, resulting in skipping meals or reliance on unhealthy processed or convenience foods. 
  • Dental issues – Poor dental health can make chewing difficult.
  • Social isolation – Seniors living alone or otherwise isolated may lack the motivation to cook or eat nutritious meals. Eating alone can take away the enjoyment of meals, reducing appetite. 
  • Lack of transportation – Seniors’ inability to drive or access public transit means they may not have the opportunity to shop often enough. 
  • Dementia – Dementia-related memory or behavioral problems can cause seniors to forget or refuse to eat or develop unhealthy eating habits. 

Other conditions like hearing loss, alcohol addiction, depression, and anxiety can also prevent seniors from maintaining proper nutrition. Additionally, studies show that seniors who have long-term or recurrent hospitalizations tend to have higher rates of malnutrition. 

Combatting Nutrition Challenges in Senior Living 

Most senior living communities employ nutrition experts and trained chefs who can identify individual needs and develop customized dietary plans. Nutritional counseling educates residents about nutrients, portion control, and healthy eating habits to empower them to make good food choices. Professional chefs are adept at preparing menus that meet various dietary needs. 

Other ways senior living communities can combat nutritional challenges include:

  • Providing easy access to water and other healthy beverages to help prevent dehydration
  • Monitoring and assessing residents’ nutritional status regularly to identify and address potential issues early
  • Collaborating with the healthcare team to ensure that dietary needs are adequately addressed and medical conditions are taken into account
  • Offering adaptive equipment and modified textures to accommodate challenges with swallowing, chewing, or other physical limitations
  • Incorporating regular exercise to improve appetite and digestion
  • Creating engaging social dining experiences that foster a sense of community and encourage residents to eat well

One of the most significant benefits of senior living communities regarding nutritional challenges is that they provide a sense of community and the opportunity for socialization, which combat loneliness and isolation that can contribute to poor nutritional health. 

Contact Buckner Villas to Overcome Senior Nutrition Challenges 

Food is essential to life for nutritional health and social and emotional well-being. Buckner Villas provides our residents with 5-star fresh, exciting, flavorful, and healthy dining options. Overcoming senior nutrition challenges alone is difficult. For help ensuring that you or your loved one receives the nutrition needed to sustain their overall health, contact Buckner Villas at 512.580.9882 or through our online portal.