The Importance of Good Nutrition for Senior Adults

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We all know that good nutrition is important, and this is true no matter what your age is. It gives us energy to perform daily activities and to exercise, and it may help prevent some diseases, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

This is all true for senior adults as well, but as they age, their nutrition needs may change somewhat. At our USA Healthcare facilities, our dietary staff is familiar with these needs and changes that may take place. They are experts at crafting delicious, healthy meals while keeping the nutrition of our residents in mind as their top priority.

How to Help Senior Adults With Proper Nutrition As They Age

While what they are eating is important, there are many other factors at play as well that we’re able to address and help with at our facilities. One thing that can make good nutrition difficult for some is losing their overall desire to eat, which may be caused in part by loneliness. With our large, open, cheerful dining rooms, we take care of this issue by offering a community setting that feels like friends meeting for a meal together.

Senior adults may also experience trouble with the physical process of chewing and swallowing. In these cases, we can connect them with other professionals who can help, such as dentists and therapists. We have wonderful speech therapists at each of our facilities who can help significantly improve these types of issues. Our occupational therapists may also be able to help when residents have trouble feeding themselves or performing other movements related to eating. 

When it comes to what senior adults put on their plates, here are some overall guidelines:

  • Eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrients needed. Plates should look like a rainbow with lots of bright, colorful foods. 
  • Focus on lean protein, such as lean meats, seafood, eggs, and beans.
  • Eat mostly whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal).
  • Low-fat dairy, such as cheese and milk, are often the best for seniors.
  • Choose foods that are lower in sodium.
  • Look for high-fiber foods to help with issues such as constipation.
  • Avoid empty calories (foods with calories but no nutritional content), such as chips, candy, cookies, and soda.
  • Pick foods that are low in cholesterol and fat, especially saturated and trans fats. 
  • Drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration. Some people lose their sense of thirst as they age, and certain medicines can affect thirt as well.
  • Be as active as possible even if this just means daily activities of living. For those who lose their appetite, more exercise and activity can help them feel hungrier. 

In addition to these general tips, here are a few of the nutrients that are particularly important as we age: 

Calcium and Vitamin D

Adults over 70 need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain bone health. To meet these needs, aim for three servings of low-fat or fat-free calcium-rich foods and beverages daily. Other sources of calcium include fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, and canned fish with soft bones. Sources of vitamin D to focus on include fatty fish such as salmon, eggs, and fortified foods and beverages.

Vitamin B12

Some adults older than 50 may not be able to absorb enough vitamin B12. Fortified cereal, lean meat, fish, and other types of seafood are good sources of vitamin B12. 

Dietary Fiber

Fiber-rich foods will help senior adults stay regular. Eating more fiber may also help lower their risk for heart disease and reduce the risk for Type 2 diabetes. They should eat whole-grain breads and cereals, and more beans, peas, and lentils, in addition to lots of whole fruits and vegetables, which also provide dietary fiber.


Adequate potassium, along with limiting sodium (salt) intake, may lower the risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables, beans, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products are all good sources of potassium.

Eating healthy can be simple, but there is more to consider when it comes to the dietary needs of senior adults. We are happy to consider these needs for each of our residents to make sure they are getting the nutrition they need.

USA Healthcare: Your Family is Our Family

At USA Healthcare, we look forward to getting to know you and your family and helping you get the answers you need when it comes to the best care options for your loved ones.

Contact us at USA Healthcare to discuss our long-term and short-term care facilities and options. We’re here for you!