Everyone wins when everyone eats better. This is more than a catchy phrase suitable for school cafeterias everywhere, but an encouraging message that good nutrition is vital for patients, caregivers, and pretty much anyone living in La Jolla and elsewhere, no matter their age or health condition.
The team at Accredited Home Care also is happy to spread this message of good nutrition to our clients, their friends and family members, their caregivers, and anyone else in their life.
We especially want to emphasize nutrition for clients, since they often are not always in optimal health so eating well regularly is even more critical for their daily lives and routine.
But at the same time, as much as they are aware they should be practicing good dining habits, sometimes it’s difficult for them to cook all the time. They may not have correct or fresh supplies or may not remember or have easy access to recipes. They may not want to get the kitchen messy every day especially if they’re the only ones who are eating.
Or in some cases, they may never have learned to cook or why nutritious foods are better in the long run. Perhaps a spouse took care of all of these tasks but he or she passed away the survivor must start from scratch learning these skills. So it’s often easier to not eat well, such as ordering take-out or even just snacking.
Accredited Home Care does offer some resources to help our clients do better in their kitchens, including offering home health aides who can assist with various domestic duties, everything from light cleaning to meal preparation.
Depending on the client, we can sometimes take him or her grocery shopping or at least take their grocery list and pick up their requested items for them.
All these options can be useful for people who want to keep on eating well but don’t always have the knowledge, expertise, or abilities to do so.
The roles of a caregiver
Caregivers often are thought of as being able to help a client physically, such as with mobility needs or general care. Sometimes this can include simply being available if they need assistance so the client doesn’t have to live alone. Even caregivers who aren’t there 24 hours a day can still check in on a regular basis or be available as needed.
Caregivers can also be responsible for helping with meal preparation and clean-up. Ideally, they can make sure the client eats well and eats regularly.
Some conditions, such as dementia, may cause people to forget about traditional meal schedules. This can have negative effects at both ends – they could go too long without eating which could cause malnutrition and other physical problems. Or they can be eating all the time, which can lead to obesity and other problems.
An irregular dining schedule or poor food choices can also lead to physical problems, including blood sugar issues.
Caregivers may not need extensive culinary experience but they should know that the food they create – or help the client create – can make a big difference in their overall health.
A better diet has other benefits. A recent study has shown that a regular diet of berries and other fruits and vegetables has some value in protecting your brain from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
A study of more than 2,800 Americans going back as 1970 shows that those with the highest risks and likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s symptoms consume the lowest amount of fruits and vegetables.
Likewise, those who have the lowest risk of developing the symptoms are regular eaters of fruit like berries and apples, plus natural beverages like fruit juice, tea, or wine.
Even eating or drinking a little can make a difference – those in the highest risk group reported they eat less than 1.5 apples or pears a month and zero berries. Those in the lowest risk group report eating as many as 7.5 cups of berries through a month plus 19 cups of black or green tea. The risk can drop by adding at least one cup of berries a week.
The “secret” ingredient in these types of foods seems to be something called flavonoids, which are items in the brain that can boost brain health, reduce inflammation, and restore some damage that takes place in the brains of those with dementias.
A live-in caregiver should practice what they preach, or else cook well for everyone, including themselves. This way, everyone can benefit, not just the client.
It makes sense to cook the same meal, so everyone can eat the same nutritious fare.
Even if a loved one isn’t an official caregiver, just someone who likes to cook sometimes, they can still come up with tasty recipes.
People who aren’t as familiar with cooking and nutrition can consider taking nutrition or cooking classes for extra pointers, especially if their community has some kind of extension program. They can also look online for various nutritional resources or helpful cooking tips.
One is Fruits and Veggies-More Matters Month which not only offers nutritional info but promotes the month of September as a time to learn more about the value of healthy eating in terms of daily diet plus the benefits of good health.