Seniors building muscles? Surely we’re not talking about bodybuilding? No, this is something more critical to their lives, their safety and health – fall prevention.
Falling among seniors is a leading cause of injury, hospitalization and even death. Caregivers have heard this long enough to understand the implications of one misstep for their seniors especially for those aging in place alone.
We are all afraid of the potential for falls, including our seniors.
Often the fear of falling keeps older adults sedentary, which only makes their muscles weaker and increases their risk for falls. It can become a vicious cycle that is hard to break.
We have some ideas to help prevent the loss of muscle and thereby balance that often occurs as our seniors age.
Foods To Help Strengthen Muscles
- Sprinkle on the cheese! Add a slice to your sandwich or toast; sprinkle on top of grits in the morning or salads at lunch; add a cheese sauce to your vegetables at dinner; grate some on a slice of apple pie; add shredded cheese to your soups, baked potato or chili; and make au gratin potatoes or vegetables. Snack on chunks of cheese or cheese sticks between meals or put a slice on a cracker.
- Drink milk with your meals, it’s not just for breakfast! Add milk to cooking including soups, hot cereal, cream sauces, and replace the water in your family recipe with milk. Drink milkshakes and eat pudding for snacks.
- Eggs anyone? Besides having eggs for breakfast, add hard cooked eggs to salads, casseroles, vegetables; beat eggs into mashed potatoes and sauces; add egg white to foods such as puddings, custards, scrambled eggs, and pancake batter to add a punch of protein; or add sliced cooked eggs to sandwiches. Have some deviled eggs as a snack!
- Let’s all go nuts! Toss nuts into salads, muffin mix, pancake mix, cookies, cereal, ice cream, yogurt or over vegetables. You can always toss a few into your hand and eat for a snack. Nut spreads such as peanut or hazelnut are great on crackers, toast or English muffins.
- Swirl some peanut butter into your ice cream, over a muffin, spread on a cracker, stuff into celery, roll on a banana or eat right from a spoon!
- Don’t give up meat! As seniors age, one of the first foods to go from the diet is meat because it is too difficult chew or takes time to prepare. Meat protein is essential to strong muscles so add it in ways that are easier to eat such as ground meat (hamburger patty, meatloaf, meatball, ground sausage); canned meats such as potted chicken, salmon, tuna, or even spam; use chunks of soft meats in casseroles; add strips of chicken to cooked vegetables, casseroles, soups, sauces, or a soft tortilla; add ground meats or poultry to a baked potato; boil in broth or soak in gravy to keep in moist and easy to chew or swallow; add meat or poultry in pureed form to other foods in the meal; and use meats cooked in pot pie that are soft and tender. If you need to use pureed meats, try baby foods for a simple, consistent product in assorted varieties that takes little preparation time.
- Beans, beans! Add beans to soups, casseroles and pasta dishes; add to salads; mash into other foods; try tofu in smoothies or just use them as a side dish with your meal.
- Supplemental protein: There are protein powder products that you can use to add to the food or beverages you currently eat. There are also foods that have extra protein such as Special K High protein water and some high protein bars and granola bars. This should be a last resort after trying to add food sources of protein to the diet.
Additional Health Tip
Another way to stay healthy and strong: Talk to your doctor about adding a well-balanced multivitamin like Geritol. With essential B vitamins, vital antioxidants and more; Geritol is a great way to help ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs on a daily basis.
Being sure that protein sources appear at every meal our seniors eat is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. In addition to physical activity and muscle building activities, our senior’s diet can help them reduce falling and be able to get back up without injury.
So yes, let’s help our senior loved ones build muscles!