A Special Note to Caregivers

If you happen to be the main caregiver for a loved one, you likely face a unique challenge when it comes to weight control. Chances are good that you're not eating as well as you should. You might be gaining weight from a poor diet, or from eating to relieve the stress of endless caregiving, or because you don't feel your needs matter any more. If you have diabetes, you might not be eating in the best ways to keep your weight down and your blood sugar under control. Weight gain and poor nutrition during this time can make your diabetes worse, reduce your mobility, worsen other chronic health problems, and even increase your risk of death. Dieting and eating better might seem difficult when all your energy is going to the loved one you care for, but you can still find ways to stay healthy. Don't feel guilty about taking time for your personal needs. If you care for yourself, the person you care for will benefit, too.

Lose Weight Safely

If you decide to lose weight by changing your diet, be sure to discuss your plan with your doctor. Because your metabolism is now slower, your overall need for calories is lower, but your need for a varied diet with good nutrition is more important than ever. Older adults need to be sure to get enough protein in their diet and to get enough fiber, potassium, calcium, and vitamins D, E, and K. You also need to make sure you're getting enough vitamin B12 (talk to your doctor about supplements). To get all that while also eating less means being careful to use your daily calories on foods that are high in nutrition. It doesn't really leave much room in your diet for high-calories, low-nutrition foods so choose your treats sparingly and wisely. Meet with a Registered Dietitian or a Certified Diabetes Educator to help formulate a healthy meal plan that is right for you.

SOURCES:

Ensrud KE, Ewing SK, Stone KL, Cauley JA, Bowman PJ, Cummings SR. 2003. Intentional and unintentional weight loss increase bone loss and hip fracture risk in older women. J Am Geriatr Soc. 51(12):1740–7.

Gozansky WS, Van Pelt RE, Jankowski CM, Schwartz RS, Kohrt WM. 2005. Protection of bone mass by estrogens and raloxifene during exercise-induced weight loss. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 90(1):52-9.

Messier S.P. 2005. Weight loss reduces knee-joint loads in overweight and obese older adults with knee osteoarthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 52:2026–2032.

Shultz, Richard and Beach, Scott. 1999. Caregiving as A Risk for Mortality: The Caregiver Health Effects Study. JAMA. 282:23.

Villareal DT, Chode S, Parimi N, Sinacore DR, Hilton T, Armamento-Villareal R, Napoli N, Qualls C, Shah K. 2011. Weight loss, exercise, or both and physical function in obese older adults. N Engl J Med. 364(13):1218–29.

Reviewed by Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN. 5/12

 

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Last Modified Date: February 15, 2013

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