Why Seniors Require More Protein than Younger Adults

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As seniors age, following a protein-rich diet becomes increasingly important. Protein can stave off some of the preventable side effects of aging, such as muscle tone loss and reduced mobility. It can also lower the risk of some life-threatening illnesses. Ahead, learn why seniors need to consume more protein than younger adults. 

Protein & Overall Wellbeing

Protein deficiencies don’t develop only in seniors with chronic illnesses or functional impairments. Many healthy seniors consume too little protein on a daily basis. Because the rate of muscle atrophy increases with age, seniors need to consume greater quantities of protein to counteract these effects. If they don’t follow a diet rich in healthy lean proteins, seniors may experience muscle and bone loss, reduced mobility levels, and compromised immune health. 

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, 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.

Protein & Illness

Seniors who have chronic illnesses or are preparing for surgery are often prescribed protein-heavy diets by their doctors because extra protein helps seniors through high-stress situations. Illness, cardiac events, and recovery from surgery can take a toll on a senior’s body. The body expends a great deal of energy on healing, and its ability to use protein efficiently decreases. To promote a healthy recovery, seniors need to consume enough protein to maintain their muscle and bone health. Protein also governs many basic physiological functions. 

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, Huntsville 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.

Protein & Long-Term Functionality

Protein intake and long-term functionality may be connected. Research suggests higher protein consumption correlates with enhanced functionality in seniors, which means seniors who eat enough protein are better able to perform the daily activities of living, including basic hygiene, grooming, and dressing. These habits are strongly connected to mobility levels. Because adequate protein intake prolongs senior mobility, inadequate protein intake can leave seniors without the physical dexterity to perform essential tasks. 

Protein & Strokes

Research suggests there may be a connection between protein intake and stroke prevention. A study conducted in China concluded that people with high-protein diets were 20 percent less likely to have strokes than those with low-protein diets. While these findings are compelling on their own, they also call attention to an important fact about high-protein diets: when seniors eat a lot of protein, they’re eating less of something else. If seniors eat a lot of healthy chicken and fish, their diet may have less room for unhealthy foods, such as sugary carbohydrates or fatty fried dishes. Protein has heart-protective properties, and diets rich in protein tend to contain smaller amounts of the unhealthy foods that lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. 

Calculating Protein Intake

When seniors decide to increase their protein intake, a simple question remains: How much protein do they need? For the average adult, the recommended daily allowance is 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. Because seniors need more protein, some experts recommend increasing the protein/body weight ratio to 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram. 

Some aging adults may need help choosing healthy foods with plenty of protein to stay strong in the golden years. In Huntsville, 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 (256) 716-9940 today.


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