People of all ages who suffer from diabetes need to take care of their health and make sure not to ignore their nutritional needs. However, extra care is a must with the dietary habits of senior citizens with diabetes—and their changing health needs require proper attention. The diabetic diet tips for elders listed below will explain the importance.
This is an issue that should concern everyone, as more than 23 percent of Americans with age 60 and older have diabetes. Many diabetic elders have other health concerns that must be taken into consideration when planning their diets—they are more likely to suffer from hypertension or cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes.
Additionally, diabetic elders have higher rates of vitamin and mineral deficiencies than younger adults with diabetes.
The Key is in the Nutrients
Medical experts have prescribed that 45-65 percent of a diabetic’s diet must come from carbohydrates, preferably from fiber-rich sources (although this may cause some digestive problems for elderly diabetics who are dehydrated or bedridden).
25-35 percent of the diet may come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. The other 10-20 percent may come from protein.
A Special Word About Carbohydrates
Because carbohydrates are the nutrients that affect a person’s blood sugar the most, the kind of carbohydrates consumed are essential to managing diabetes. A study from the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that all people with diabetes should eat 130 grams of carbs daily.
The diet should mainly consist of whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, etc.) and starchy vegetables (squash, beans, lentils, peas, etc.) as well as 3 to 5 servings of non-starchy vegetables every day—such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery.
While it is always best to talk to a patient’s physician and nutritionist concerning the best diet for them, we would like to share some simple tips in preparing the diets of elderly diabetics.
- Elders who are fighting an infection or have wounds that are healing may need additional protein (or even overall calories) in their diets.
- Consider changing the sodium restrictions on senior citizen’s diets. Age changes people’s taste buds, and if they cannot feel what they eat because of limited sodium, they may not eat enough, and therefore will not get enough nutrients.
- Tolerance for alcohol lowers with age, and the amount of alcohol consumed by an elder diabetic will affect his or her blood sugar. There is always a restriction or limitation on alcohol intake.
- Consider adding pureed food or supplements to a senior’s diet if his or her nutritional needs are not getting fulfilled with their regular meals.
Caregivers and loved ones of elderly with diabetes can play a very active part in making sure they get their nutritional needs met. Here are some things to follow
- Prepare a week’s worth of healthy dishes in appropriate portions for elders to simply freeze and reheat during mealtimes.
- In the same vein, offer to supply diabetic seniors with groceries regularly, to ensure that fresh and nutritious food will be available to them.
- Help seniors create a clean, warm and inviting atmosphere in the rooms where they take their meals.
- Eat meals with them, so they don’t have to eat alone. Make healthy meals pleasant social experiences for seniors.
- Accompany them to meet with a registered dietician or nutritionist so that they understand what their dietary guidelines may be and why they must be followed.
Make sure that they get clear answers to any questions they might have regarding not only their diets but their overall health.