Nutrition For The Caregiver
Are you a family caregiver? You may not think of yourself that way, but if you spend time tending to the needs or concerns of a person with an ongoing illness, injury or disability you are considered a caregiver. You might also be surprised to learn that nutrition for the caregiver is just as important as it is for those to whom they are providing care.
Approximately 85% of people with dementia and chronic illness are cared for exclusively in their own homes. On average, their loved ones provide 12 hours of assistance a day.1 That can be difficult to juggle with work and other responsibilities, and it often takes an economic and physical toll. As a result, caregivers often report significant stress, depression, anxiety and fatigue.
Caregiver Nutrition – Eat Right, Reduce Stress, Feel Better
Caregiving also can take its toll on caregiver nutrition. Limited time to cook or shop may result in reaching for sweets or picking up fast food, which don’t need a lot of preparation or advance planning. Nutrients that can fall short include protein and fluids, as well as fiber, vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables that may not be present in convenience items.
That leaves the caregiver at risk of malnutrition, and, in turn, more susceptible to the physical effects of stress. The good news is that eating a healthful diet can reduce the negative effects of stress. So, while caregivers are often rightfully focused on making sure they provide healthy meals for those they care for, it is very important for caregivers to keep their own nutrition and hydration at the top of their priority list.
How can you add this to your full list of items on your “to do” list? A good way to start a new habit is to take the first few steps. Begin with drinking beverages at each meal and 2-3 times between meals. Examples of healthy drinks include: water, milk, juice (for those fruits/vegetables you may be missing), or non-sweetened drinks. Next, focus on protein, a key nutrient that builds strength and provides important minerals. Ways you can add protein to your day include:
- At meals, eat your protein first
- Snack on cheese
- Replace cereal with eggs
- Top your food with chopped almonds
- Choose Greek yogurt
- Have a protein shake
- Eat low/no fat dairy products
- Include a high-protein food like fish, chicken, beef, eggs with every meal
- Pair peanut butter or yogurt with fruit
- Try a variety of plant proteins like nuts, peanut butter, beans and tofu
- Drink a liquid supplement like Ensure
Senior LIFE supports caregivers
Senior LIFE is a team-based model of care centered on the idea of providing healthcare outside of the hospital setting. The Senior LIFE Interdisciplinary Team is made up of both professionals and paraprofessionals who take a comprehensive approach to care management: providers, homecare coordinators, transportation drivers, nurses, social workers, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians, recreational therapists, and others.
Our main goal at Senior LIFE is to keep seniors living at home for as long as possible. As a part of that goal, we offer caregiver support through education and homecare. We work together with the family and caregivers to meet the medical and social needs of seniors.
Senior LIFE is committed to lessening the burden felt by caregivers. There is even the option for Senior LIFE members to select their caregivers through the Paid Caregiver Program.
To learn more or to find out if you or a loved one are eligible for the LIFE Program, please contact us today!
Article Referenced from: the Administration for Community Living https://acl.gov/news-and-events/downloads-and-multimedia/NFCM
1 Schneider J, Murray J, Banerjee S, Mann A. EUROCARE: a cross-national study of co-resident spouse carers for people with
Alzheimer’s disease: I–Factors associated with carer burden. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 1999 Aug; 14(8):651-61
Categories: For the Caregiver