healthy senior nutrition

Are Nutritional Supplements Good for My Senior Loved One?

Matty Byloos Senior Living Tips Leave a Comment

Getting Those in Elder Care the Proper Nutrition

If you care for or help to care for a senior loved one, you have probably heard a lot about the benefits of popular nutritional supplements such as Boost, Ensure or Pedialyte. But are they really good for your loved one? Can they possibly do any harm? Here’s what you need to know about these nutritional supplements for seniors.

Does My Senior Loved One Need Nutritional Supplements?

Choosing Wisely, a society of medical professionals dedicated to helping people make better health choices, says no. According to the group, supplements like Boost are little more than liquid candy, getting sugar and water into a senior but providing few other health benefits.

If an older person is at a dangerously low weight, these products may be able to help them put on some extra pounds. They are also a good solution for people who are having trouble chewing or recovering from illness or surgery. But for your average senior, there is no reason to take these products consistently.

Can These Nutritional Supplements Hurt My Loved One?

So most seniors may not need to take these supplements, but is there any harm in it? According to dietitian Stacey Nelson from Massachusetts General Hospital, the answer is that sadly, for some seniors, these drinks may do more harm than good. Because they contain so much sugar, consuming too many of these beverages can put a senior at risk of excessive weight gain and related conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure.

There is also a concern that seniors may get in the habit of substituting these drinks for the nutrition they actually need. While these drinks do contain nutrients and are okay as a single-meal replacement from time to time, they are not a true substitute for well-balanced meals.

Finally, some seniors may have a bad reaction to such drinks, such as nausea and indigestion.

Is There an Alternative to These Traditional Supplements for Seniors?

Undernutrition and malnutrition are very serious problems for seniors, and should not be ignored. So, what can you do to protect them and help them stay healthy?

First, it’s important to remember that Ensure and products like them are usually not unhealthy when used as directed. If your senior needs to gain weight fast and can tolerate them, using them in moderation is okay. However, they are not a long-term solution. The best approach is to find out why your senior is not gaining or is losing weight.

If there is a medical reason, naturally it should be addressed right away. However, if it is simply lack of appetite, try to find foods that your senior will like and find tolerable. It’s okay if this includes some foods that are not necessarily considered the healthiest choices, like butter or whole eggs. What’s important is that you get your senior eating again, and up to a healthy weight.

If eating balanced meals remain a problem, a great substitute for these traditional nutritional supplements is a smoothie. You can control exactly what you put in a smoothie, and simultaneously make sure it is full of natural and nutrient-rich ingredients. You can also control the flavors to make sure your senior is getting something he or she really likes to drink.

If you are looking for a senior community for your older loved one in the Portland Metro or Northern California area, Golden Placements can help. We have many options for seniors of different care levels to meet your budget. Contact us today.


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