Elderly Nutrition and Dietary Needs

with Stephanie Williams, RD

A very important part of caring for the elderly is ensuring that they receive adequate nutrition. But it’s not as simple as putting them on a specific, strict diet because of issues like culture, quality of life, and medications they may be required to take. How do you navigate that kind of minefield? Registered dietitian Stephanie Williams joins us for this conversation to discuss the particular nutritional needs of elderly loved ones and how we can effectively address them without causing elderly loved ones to feel that their freedom and autonomy is being taken from them. It’s a very important conversation you won’t want to miss.

Did you realize that family culture figures into considerations about an elder loved one’s diet?

Consider the role that food plays in our lives. It’s often broader than simply being a way to receive nutrition, it has a cultural aspect to it, a social function that involves fellowship with family and friends and even aspects of cultural identity or distinction. When an elderly family member is told that they need to stop eating so much pasta or sauce (for example) and those things have been a staple in their diet for years because they are cultural or family foods, a war could be on the horizon. Dietitian Stephanie Williams helps us understand these kinds of issues in this conversation and gives some very practical tools to help us talk with elders about their diet and help them make the best choices for themselves.

Autonomy and freedom are huge when it comes to changing an elder’s diet.

Imagine living 60, 70, or even 80 years as an adult, making your own choices about everything from daily activities to what you’re going to eat. Then the time comes when your health begins to fail and dietary issues need to be addressed. If somebody comes into your life insisting that you dramatically change your diet, you’ll probably push back because what you eat has been your decision for so many years. How do you get around such a fundamental roadblock to healthier eating when it comes to your aging loved one? Stephanie Williams covers the issues of freedom and autonomy as it relates to eating and how we can come alongside our elders to help them make better choices – on this segment of the Family Caregiver Summit.

Why dietary goals MUST be coordinated with medications.

It’s easy to think in a compartmentalized way when it comes to life. But it’s wise to think how one area might impact or affect another. In the case of addressing the dietary needs of an elderly person, one of the commonly overlooked issues is how the foods they eat interact with the medications their physicians have prescribed. The wrong combinations could bring about some devastating problems that nobody expected or intended. Stephanie Williams is a registered dietitian who has a lot of insight to share on this issue, and on this session of the Family Caregiver Summit, she highlights a great approach to addressing this important issue.

When should a caregiver take over the meal preparation for an elderly person?

It’s a great approach to allow an elderly person to remain as autonomous and self-sufficient as possible for as long as possible. But the time eventually comes for most of them when they are no longer able to do the things they’ve done all their adult life. Meal preparation is one of the things that could not only become confusing or difficult, it could also become dangerous as physical or mental health declines. When should a caregiver make the decision to take over the meal preparation for an elderly loved one? Stephanie has some tips for us about how to go about that process, including the types of conversations and interactions that can make the transition easier for your elderly loved one.

What You’ll Discover in This Interview:

  • Who is Stephanie Williams and what does she do to help caregivers?
  • The most common mistakes made in terms of nutrition and caregiving.
  • Why diet and nutrition need to be coordinated with medications.
  • Issues that indicate a dietician should be consulted.
  • Why elderly people need a wide variety of foods in their diet.
  • Tips for getting elderly family members to eat the right things.
  • When should a caregiver take over the meal prep for an elderly family member?
  • The best way to find a good dietician for your family or loved one.
  • The best next step listeners can take to address dietary needs of their elders.

This Elderly Nutrition package includes a 45-minute MP3 interview, transcript and Action Sheet. $28

Elderly Nutrition and Dietary Needs