Protein is an important nutrient for keeping muscles strong and tissues healthy. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein for adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. That means that a 140-pound woman should eat 53 grams of protein each day. Unfortunately, research shows that many adults in the United States don’t get enough protein. That can be especially problematic for older adults because they naturally lose muscle mass as they age. Losing muscle mass can result in a diminished quality of life and increase the risk of falling. Eating more protein can help seniors to preserve muscle mass and improve health.
The Protein Intake Study
Researchers at Ohio State University in Columbus looked at information gathered using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2005 and 2014. The study included more than 11,000 participants who were aged 51 or older. The data showed:
- One-third of participants were deficient 30 grams of protein per day, which is about half of the protein needed by a 160-pound adult.
- Eating less protein was associated with a poorer quality of diet.
- People who ate less protein had more “functional limitations.”
Ways to Add More Protein to a Senior’s Diet
Sometimes older adults have difficulty getting enough protein. They may have difficulty chewing meat because of dental problems. Many seniors also have less of an appetite as they age. Because they use less energy, they may not feel as hungry. If you suspect your aging relative isn’t eating enough protein, there are several ways you can increase their protein intake, such as:
- Protein First: Encourage the older adult to eat the protein on their plate before eating other parts of the meal.
- Choose Cheese: Cheese is a good source of protein. Since it is easy to chew, it makes an easy and healthy snack.
- Serve Eggs for Breakfast: Eggs have gotten a bad rap over the years, but they’re actually quite healthy. One large egg contains 19 grams of protein. So, instead of serving cold cereal for breakfast, offer the older adult a plate of eggs.
- Include Nuts: Try adding protein-rich nuts to a variety of foods. Toss a handful of chopped nuts on a serving of yogurt, use them to top salads, or add them to oatmeal.
Home care can help your aging relative to add more protein to their diet and improve the way they eat overall. Home care providers can assist with meal planning and grocery shopping. They can also prepare and serve meals. If the older adult needs help to eat, a home care provider can assist with that, too. Home care providers can also prepare healthy snacks that are easy for the senior to grab out of the cupboard or refrigerator to eat when they are alone.