Of all the nutrients that your elderly family member needs to ingest, protein might be a little lower on your priority list. It's possible that it should be a little closer to the top of the list, though.
What Protein Does for Your Aging Family Member
The human body uses protein as a building block. Protein helps the body to fight off infection and to maintain muscle. It also comes in handy when your elderly family member sustains an injury and her body needs to heal. Without enough protein, your senior's muscles can suffer and so can her immune system.
Talk to Her Doctor
If you're not sure how much protein your aging family member should be eating, start with a visit to her doctor. He can help you to determine how much protein is right for her based on every aspect of her health. Someone with kidney problems, for example, needs to be very careful how much protein she has because the can overtax her kidneys.
Include Protein in Meals and Snacks
Start consciously thinking about whether you're including protein in every meal and snack that your elderly family member eats. Cheese, yogurt, milk, nuts, and more all offer quite a bit of protein. Remember also that plenty of vegetables are very high in protein. Start reading labels and researching your elderly family member's favorite foods to get an idea how much protein they have.
Track What She's Eating
The best way to know for sure how much protein your aging family member is eating is to start tracking her meals and snacks. You can definitely use apps to help you calculate nutrients, but it's just as easy to keep a log in a spiral notebook. Ask elder care providers and other family members who help out with meals to help you keep track of as much as possible so that you have a full record.
Get Creative with Protein
You may have to get creative if you're planning to up your senior's intake of protein. Adding beans to stews or soups adds both fiber and protein. Milk, both dairy and nut milks, contain more protein than water, so they're a good choice in smoothies and hot cereal. Adding protein powder to smoothies also bumps up the protein count.
Eating enough protein is about ensuring that your aging family member is eating a balanced diet that is full of all the nutrients that she needs in order to stay healthy. This may be something that you need to revisit more than once just to ensure that you're meeting her changing needs.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Leslie, MI, please contact the caring staff at Seniors Helping Seniors of Lansing. Call today: 517-332-9953.