If you have the health interests of an older loved one at heart, or if you’re a senior and have an eye on your own nutritional intake - the world of replacement shakes can seem confusing. But here’s a fact: under-nutrition because of lack of eating is real and it can cause health problems if not managed properly.
Findings from a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveal that being underweight and malnourished leads to increased mortality rates in seniors. Elderly Australians face the same issues.
It’s an issue that geriatricians take very seriously and it’s something that should be taken just as seriously by anyone in a caregiver role. But if regular appetite is waning, convincing the older person in your life to eat more just doesn’t hit the mark. One popular alternative is meal replacement shakes but there are some important things to consider before offering a drink as a substitute for a traditional meal.
With so many meal replacement drinks on the market, quality varies wildly and, to prevent malnutrition becoming a real health risk, it’s vital that choosing a meal replacement shake is done with careful research and consideration.
It’s a very common misconception that all meal replacement shakes are just that - ideal replacements for any meal. The reality is that it’s not true. Meal replacement shakes can definitely be a great addition to an elderly person’s diet to add some much-needed essential vitamins and minerals but it’s important to understand that they are not a perfect solution in isolation.
How to Use Nutrition Drinks Properly
Caregivers can get very frustrated when they attempt countless offerings of ‘interesting’ food, only to be met with repeated disinterest. Offering a flavoured, easily digestible drink though, can be a way of feeling that some food is being ingested - as long as you don’t offer it exclusively.
To properly maintain a person’s weight and their nutritional intake, offering fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, cheese and even ice-cream can all help maintain weight, with nutritional shakes making an ideal supplement to a senior’s diet, rather than a perfect replacement.
Always ensure that access to healthy food at mealtimes continues, and treat the in-between offerings of nutritionally-enriched drinks as something to add some peace of mind that vital nutrients are there to help maintain optimal health.
Identify the Cause of a Senior’s Reduced Appetite
Weight loss should not be seen as a normal part of ageing. It can have a negative impact - making older people frailer and prone to dangerous falls and other illnesses.
If meal replacement shakes are being added to a senior’s diet to help add nutrients, it’s also critical to find out what is causing the loss of appetite, as weight loss can be a sign of another illness.
The best place to assess this is a trusted GP, who may identify a root cause. Some of the conditions that could lead to loss of appetite include ulcers, thyroid disease, dementia, depression and even poorly-fitting dentures.
The good news is that all of these causes are either treatable or can be worked with, so, before automatically turning to a supplement work with your doctor, or an experienced nutritionist, to address the underlying problem - and then, of course, choose a high-quality supplement that does actually deliver the great nutrition it promises.
Find a Brand You Trust
Before selecting a nutritional supplement to add to the diet of a senior in your life, looking for one that helps rebuild muscle mass and cell growth, as well as adding vital vitamins and minerals for general well-being, is a good start.
One trusted brand is HealthCare from OzFarm which is specially-formulated to promote and maintain good health, particularly for bone strength and repair. The fact that is a low-GI formulation is another bonus, as it is designed to regulate blood sugar levels and insulin response, as well as being high in calcium for bone strength and high in vitamin D to support calcium absorption. Oz Farm Health Care now has Lactium included in its formula – clinically proven to reduce stress-related symptoms, sleep and digestive disorders.Whatever supplement you do choose, be sure to inform the GP responsible for the care of the person using the shake supplement. Anyone on prescription medications should always consult with a GP before adding anything new to their diet, to avoid potential complications and ensure the best possible health for the long-term.