Why Do Adults Need More Protein in the Golden Years?

By Mark Schmidt, 9:00 am on March 4, 2019

Protein is an essential component of a healthy diet. While all people benefit from adequate protein intake, it’s especially important for seniors. Here are some reasons your senior loved one needs more protein so he or she can enjoy optimal health, strength, and wellbeing.

Enhances Muscle Tone

As people age, muscle tone decreases. Protein is an essential building block for healthy muscle tissue, and if your loved one’s diet is deficient in protein, he or she may develop muscle loss, pain, or limited mobility. Encourage your loved one to consume lean sources of protein, such as chicken breast, fresh fish, low-fat cheeses, and legumes. However, if your loved one has renal problems, check with his or her physician before increasing dietary protein. Too much protein may be harmful to those with impaired kidney function.

If your loved one needs help adopting and maintaining a nutritious diet, consider enlisting the help of a professional caregiver. When considering at-home care, Tucson, AZ, families should make sure their senior loved ones have the resources they need to maintain their independence and remain healthy. Trusted in-home care professionals can assist seniors with daily tasks like cooking, bathing, and exercise, and they can also encourage them to focus on healthier lifestyle habits.

Boosts Energy

If your loved one feels weak or sluggish, he or she may not be consuming enough dietary protein. Protein-rich foods can boost energy and increase endurance when exercising or doing household chores. Because incorporating more protein-rich foods into the diet can increase energy levels, it’s important for your loved one to refrain from eating too much protein prior to bedtime, as it may lead to energy spurts, insomnia, and hyperactivity.

Promotes Wound Healing

Seniors who have diabetes or are bedbound are at risk for developing skin breakdown, such as stasis or decubitus ulcers. While treatment options are available to heal skin wounds, they may not always be effective if nutritional intake is poor. Adding protein-rich foods to your loved one’s diet promotes wound healing and optimal circulation that’s essential to healthy skin and collagen production. If your loved one’s appetite is poor and he or she is unable to eat enough foods to fulfill the recommended daily allowance for protein, talk to his or her physician about recommending a protein supplement.

Some aging adults need help to get the nutrition they need, and the amount of assistance required can vary, from occasional to around the clock. If your senior loved one needs hourly or live-in care, Tucson Home Care Assistance can help. Our caregivers can assist with exercise and mobility, prepare nutritious meals, provide timely medication reminders, and help with a wide array of other important daily tasks.

Supports Immune Function

Older adults may have problems with immunity as a result of preexisting medical conditions or side effects of prescription medications. Increasing dietary protein intake can boost immune function, making it less likely to develop an infection. Seniors who have suppressed immune systems may become very sick from simple colds or bouts of the flu. In addition to increasing protein intake, make sure your loved one gets a yearly influenza vaccination to further decrease the risk of getting the flu. If your loved one takes prescription steroids to manage an inflammatory condition, it’s especially important to take steps to enhance immune function. Steroid medications can decrease immune function, leaving your loved one vulnerable to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections of the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal system, and skin. In addition to protein, make sure your loved one’s dietary intake includes foods rich in immune-boosting vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, vitamin D, and calcium.

Some aging adults may need help choosing healthy foods with plenty of protein to stay strong in the golden years. In Tucson, elderly home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. To create a customized home care plan for your loved one, call Home Care Assistance at (520) 276-6555 today.