Taking in too much sodium has been shown to increase blood pressure, risk of stroke, kidney disease, and heart failure.
High salt intake has also been shown to:
- Affect cognitive functioning
- Lead to osteoporosis, putting bones at a higher risk for fractures
- Increase the risk of stomach cancer
- Worsen fluid retention, which can cause swollen legs
Do All Seniors Need a Low-Sodium Diet?
As adults age, their bodies tend to become more sensitive to sodium and its ill effects. Experts note that almost all older adults benefit from a lower-salt diet, not just those with high blood pressure.
One notable exception may include some seniors who are experiencing unintentional weight loss. In some cases, it’s more important for them to take in calories, and if they strongly prefer higher sodium foods, their doctor or dietician may recommend liberalizing their diet. Always consult with the doctor when a senior is losing weight without trying – even if they think it as a good thing. Unintentional weight loss can be a sign of serious medical problems, and can lead to dangerous complications.
Reducing Sodium Intake
Less than a quarter of salt intake comes from the salt shaker. By and large, the majority of sodium consumed comes from packaged and pre-prepared foods.
–Cooking from scratch can significantly reduce the amount of sodium in a senior’s diet, especially when paying attention to providing lower-sodium meals.
–Reduce sodium content gradually so the senior has time to adapt gradually to changing flavors.
–Substitute low sodium products when possible. For example, replace standard broth with the low-sodium variety, or opt for fresh veggies over canned.
–Modify recipes by reducing high-sodium ingredients, such as cheese or bacon, using ground beef in place of ground sausage, and reducing salt levels, or replacing salt with salt-substitute mixes or other herbs can impact a recipe’s sodium level.
Home Care can Support Healthy Diets for Seniors
However, one of the reasons seniors eat higher sodium foods is that in many cases they have difficulty preparing meals on their own. Pre-packaged foods may be their only real option due to other limitations that interfere with food preparation, such as arthritis, fatigue or memory issues.
Home care can help with healthy grocery shopping and food preparation. Many seniors enjoy having a home care aide come to freshly prepare each meal. They may benefit from reminders or encouragement from the home care aide, or they may simply enjoy the companionship at meal time.
Other seniors find that having a home care aide come each morning to prepare foods for the day ahead is sufficient. Still others prefer a weekly visit, where the home care aide can swing by the grocer and then spend the day preparing a big pot of soup, a casserole or two, and perhaps some other healthy foods to eat throughout the week.
Some seniors enjoy directing the cooking closely, while the home care aide acts in effect as their hands, while others are content to simply let it happen while they rest in the other room.
Because home care is so flexible and is geared towards individual preferences, whatever the individual senior prefers is the goal. Give the home care agency a call to discuss how they can best support your specific needs.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering Senior Care in Cupertino, CA, please contact the caring staff at Reachpoint Home Care & Resources Inc. today. (408) 692-4110