Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

COPD and Diet: Managing COPD Symptoms Through Food

November 28th, 2017

COPD and DietAs reported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, an approximated 12 million adults are currently diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and it’s also expected that another 12 million could be living with the disease and not even know it. It’s also worth noting that COPD typically occurs in middle age, with smoking as the main risk factor. Consistent exposure to occupational dusts and chemicals also presents a high risk factor.

If you have been diagnosed with COPD, living healthier can make a difference in the severity of symptoms. As a matter of fact, eating a healthier diet can make those with COPD feel better, enhance vital energy needed for breathing, as well as fight chest infections.

Follow these tips for COPD and diet to help manage symptoms:

  • Eat your breakfast. For those with COPD, breathing burns ten times more calories than it does for a person without COPD, so commencing your day with a healthy breakfast can give you the calories and nutrients you must have for the day.
  • Consume more potassium. COPD patients on diuretics tend to have a need for more potassium. Try oranges, bananas, potatoes, and tomatoes to get the healthy potassium you need.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, but hold the caffeine. Liquids help keep mucus in the breathing passages thin and less difficult to clear. But caffeine can conflict with some medicines and may trigger restlessness, so it’s best to stick to non-caffeinated liquids.
  • Stay away from gas-inducing foods. Foods like beans, carbonated beverages, and fried foods that lead to gas and bloating may make it difficult to breathe. Try to avoid these kinds of foods to stave off COPD symptom flare-ups.
  • Sodium can contribute to water retention, which makes it tougher to breathe, so it’s best to avoid foods that have greater than 300 milligrams of sodium per serving. Salt-free spices such as garlic, oregano, basil, curry, onion, parsley, rosemary and lemon juice are all good alternate possibilities.

Visiting Angels is skilled in working with COPD patients and their family caregivers to manage symptoms and verify that the home is safe and free from irritants. Our San Jose area home health care helps patients manage COPD through education, exercise, nutritional support, psychological support and coping skills. Call Visiting Angels today at 408-610-9996 or contact us online to learn more about managing COPD symptoms. Serving San Jose and the surrounding areas, we’re here to partner with you to improve quality of life for your senior loved one!

The Ultimate Diet for Those with Kidney Disease

March 9th, 2016

home care kidney disease helpYou are what you eat, as the saying goes, and for those with kidney disease, it’s even more vital that a proper dietary plan be followed to minimize symptoms, such as pain, nausea, swelling and others, and to perhaps even slow the progression of the disease. Visiting Angels recommends the following dietary considerations (once approved by the physician):


Excessive amounts of sodium in the diet can cause the body to retain fluids, raise blood pressure and make the heart work harder. Sodium consumption should be limited to 2 grams per day. Avoid foods that contain large amounts of salt such as:

  • Canned food
  • Processed meat and smoked meat
  • Chips, crackers or pretzels
  • Nuts
  • Pickled foods like olives and pickles
  • High-sodium condiments like soy sauce, BBQ sauce or ketchup

NOTE: Be careful with salt substitutes and “reduced sodium” foods, as many salt substitutes are high in potassium.


Potassium is a mineral found in almost all foods. The body requires some potassium to make the muscles work, but during dialysis, potassium levels must be very closely monitored. Having too much or too little potassium can cause muscle cramps, irregular heartbeat and muscle weakness. A dietitian can help determine how much potassium is best for an individual.


Although protein is a necessary nutrient, when the kidneys are not functioning properly, excess protein starts to build up in the blood. People with kidney disease should consume no more protein than is needed by the body. When treatment is started early, a low protein diet and a balanced formula of essential amino acids at each meal has shown to delay the time to dialysis and even reverse some kidney problems.

Vitamins and Minerals

People with kidney disease may require vitamin supplements to help avoid some common side effects of kidney failure like bone disease or anemia, but these should be taken only as directed by a doctor.

At Visiting Angels, we’re helping seniors throughout Santa Clara and Alameda counties to manage kidney disease, through our in-home care services which include careful meal planning and preparation services, assistance with following doctors’ orders, and providing the cheerful companionship that lifts up spirits and brings warmth and joy into the home. Contact us to learn more at 408-735-0977 in Sunnyvale, or 510-284-0000 in Fremont.

Get the Non-Sugar-Coated Facts About Diabetes

November 18th, 2015

DiabetesThere are many myths about diabetes floating around out there. You may have heard some of the more common ones, like eating too much sugar causes diabetes or people who have diabetes can’t eat sweets. The home care professionals at Visiting Angels of Fremont and Sunnyvale want to clear up some of these misconceptions. The following are some facts about diabetes and diabetes care:

  1. Diabetes is a serious disease that requires regular care and monitoring. While many people with diabetes are able to live normal, healthy lives, diabetes causes more deaths per year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. Maintaining a healthy diet and monitoring glucose levels regularly is essential.
  2. Being overweight does not necessarily mean you will develop diabetes. Obesity is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, but most overweight people never develop it. Additionally, many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight.
  3. Eating too much sugar does not cause diabetes. It is important to eat a healthy diet, but simply eating too much sugar is unlikely to cause diabetes. Diabetes actually begins when something disrupts the body’s ability to turn food that is eaten into energy.
  4. People with diabetes can still eat sweets. If eaten in moderation as part of a healthy meal plan or combined with exercise, sweets can be eaten by diabetics. However, diabetics must take their insulin prescription regularly as recommended to ensure that the sugar will be absorbed by the body and does not stay in the blood.
  5. People with diabetes do not need to eat foods advertised as “diabetic foods”. A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in fat, moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on whole grains, vegetables and fruit. Diabetic and “dietetic” foods typically do not offer any special benefits. In fact, most of them still raise blood glucose levels, are generally expensive, and can have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.

Practicing good diabetes management is vital for diabetics, and having an in-home caregiver to help with medication reminders, monitor blood glucose levels and provide early recognition of potential complications can make all the difference in someone’s diabetic care. Call Visiting Angels today to schedule a home care aide who is well trained to assist a diabetic patient with maintaining good health.

Cancer Care at Home: Eating Right and Staying Healthy

September 22nd, 2015

senior nutritionAfter a cancer diagnosis, it is extremely important to focus on eating right during and after treatment. Nutrition is especially important because cancer and the treatments for it can affect your appetite and your body’s ability to tolerate certain foods and absorb nutrients. At Visiting Angels of Fremont and Sunnyvale, we know how important it is to eat right and stay as healthy as you can during treatments. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • At least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day
  • 3-4 servings of low fat dairy
  • Lean meats like fish, poultry, nuts, legumes and beans
  • Green tea (known for health benefits)
  • Miso soup (known to detoxify radiation)
  • Plenty of pure water

When healthy, eating enough food to maintain proper nutrition is not usually a problem, but during cancer treatment, a person may suffer from lack of appetite. Under these circumstances, the person should simply try to eat anything that he or she can easily digest.

On treatment days:

  • Talk with the nurse to learn about ways to relax if feeling sick before treatment.
  • Learn the best time to eat and drink. Some people feel better when they eat a little just before treatment. Others feel better when they have nothing to eat or drink before treatment.
  • After treatment, wait at least one hour before eating or drinking.

Visiting Angels can help if you or your loved one in Alameda or Santa Clara County needs some help during cancer treatments. Our caregivers can help prepare nutritious meals and help you follow the doctor’s plan. Contact us any time at 408-735-0977 in Sunnyvale, or 510-284-0000 in Fremont.

For Older Adults, Forget the Old Food Pyramid!

March 25th, 2015

The food pyramid that we’re all familiar with is a way of the past, with a new MyPlate formula taking its place. However, the latest research from Tufts University indicates that MyPlate is not quite suited to the distinct dietary needs of older adults. So Tufts developed the MyPlate for Older Adults which:

  • Continues to emphasize nutrient-dense food choices and the importance of fluid balance, but
  • Has added guidance about forms of foods that could best meet the unique needs of older adults, and stresses the importance of regular activity.

Since older adults tend to need fewer calories as they age, but their bodies still require the same or higher levels of nutrients for optimal health, the recommended focus includes:

  • Whole, enriched, and fortified grains and cereals, such as brown rice and 100% whole wheat bread.
  • Brightly-colored vegetables, such as carrots and broccoli.
  • Deeply-colored fruit, such as berries and melon.
  • Low- and non-fat dairy products, such as yogurt and low-lactose milk.
  • Dry beans and nuts, fish, poultry, lean meat and eggs.
  • Liquid vegetable oils and soft spreads low in saturated and trans fat.
  • Appropriate fluid intake.
  • Physical activity, such as walking, house work and yard work.

Additionally, suggested modifications include bags of frozen pre-cut vegetables that can be resealed, and single-serve portions of canned fruit – choices that can be easier to prepare and have a longer shelf life, minimizing waste.

For more tips on how to help older adults eat healthier, call on the aging care experts at Visiting Angels in California. A helping hand from one of our skilled home caregivers can make all the difference in the world in the quality of life for your senior loved one. Call us at 408-735-0977 in Sunnyvale, or 510-284-0000 in Fremont to learn more.

Take this Quick Senior Nutritional Needs Assessment

March 18th, 2015

As parents age, their resolve to keep from worrying their children will likely remain unchanged. As a result, they may not be forthcoming with sharing details about any issues they’re experiencing with eating properly and meeting nutritional needs. And for those who live at a distance, it can be even more challenging to be fully aware of dietary changes. The following quick assessment can help family members determine if nutritional needs might need to be addressed:

  • Has the senior complained of loss of appetite, digestive problems, or chewing or swallowing difficulties? Has there been decreased food intake over the past 3 months due to these complaints?
  • Has the senior experienced weight loss during the last 3 months? Weight loss, particularly in those who are not active, can be an indication that the person is not eating properly.
  • Does the senior have mobility issues? Being bed bound or unable to go outside can cause nutritional challenges like inability to buy groceries or prepare meals.
  • Has the senior suffered psychological stress or acute disease in the past 3 months?
  • What is the senior’s body mass index (BMI)? A BMI of 18.5 or less may be a sign that the person is not eating enough, while a BMI of 30 or more can indicate obesity.

If any of these indicators point to an area of concern for your senior loved one, the first course of action is to check in with his or her doctor. Visiting Angels of Sunnyvale and Fremont, California, can help in a variety of ways as well, with home care services provided by our experienced, compassionate and dedicated caregivers, who receive ongoing training in senior care and are fully screened, bonded and insured. Fill out our simple online contact form or call us at 408-735-0977 to enhance the quality of life for your elderly loved one.

How to Combat the Top Three Nutritional Struggles for Seniors

March 11th, 2015

As we shared in our last blog, meeting nutritional requirements as we age can feel like an uphill battle. Visiting Angels is here to help, with suggestions from the Food and Drug Administration for addressing some of the top dietary challenges seniors face:

Trouble Chewing:
For seniors who cannot chew food well, meats and fresh fruits and vegetables can be a problem. The FDA suggests the following substitutions:

  • Instead of fresh fruit, try fruit juice, apple sauce, or canned peaches and pears.
  • Instead of raw vegetables, try vegetable juices or mashed and cooked vegetables.
  • Instead of large pieces of meat, try ground meat, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products.
  • Instead of sliced bread, try cooked cereals, rice, bread pudding and soft cookies.

Unable to Shop for Groceries:
Some seniors may have problems shopping for themselves due to being unable to drive or having ambulation issues. The FDA suggests:

  • Requesting a local store deliver groceries to the home.
  • Requesting volunteer shopping help from a local church, synagogue or volunteer center.
  • Asking a family member or neighbor to help with shopping.
  • Enlisting the help of a local home care agency such as Visiting Angels of Fremont and Sunnyvale.

Lack of Appetite:
Elderly people who live alone sometimes feel lonely at mealtimes, which can lead to a loss of appetite. They may also not feel up to making a meal just for themselves or the medication that they take might make food taste bad. For these issues, the FDA suggests:

  • Eating with family and friends.
  • Joining group meal programs offered through local senior citizens programs.
  • Talking to a doctor about whether or not medication might be a problem.
  • Contacting a local home care agency such as Visiting Angels to have a companion prepare and participate in making meal time a social activity.

Still feeling overwhelmed with ensuring your senior loved one is eating properly? Call Visiting Angels for a free in-home assessment, where we’ll meet with your family, discuss your specific situation, and come up with an individualized plan of care. Partner with Santa Clara and Alameda County’s premiere home care agency and watch your loved one thrive!

Nutrition Tips for Seniors

March 4th, 2015

Ask any senior and the answer will likely be the same: aging brings about changes in practically every aspect of life. Dietary and nutritional changes are no exception, with alterations in the taste and smell of food, decreased appetite, oral and dental issues and gastrointestinal changes all reported to be associated with aging by the National Institutes of Health. Helping your senior loved one maintain a healthy diet and meet his or her nutritional needs can be tricky.

Here are a few tips to help choose the right foods for older adults:

Protein needs typically do not change for older adults; however, some proteins, like turkey, chicken, and fish, are healthier than red meats. Other foods with protein include:

  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Tofu
  • Nuts

Fat should be something that older adults reduce in their diets; however, there are some “good” fats that can be part of a healthy diet, including:

  • Olive oil
  • Seeds
  • Sunflower oil
  • Avocados
  • Nuts

Calcium is a very important nutrient that helps minimize bone loss in older adults. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are all good sources of calcium, as are:

  • Figs
  • Tofu
  • Kale
  • White beans
  • Cabbage

At Visiting Angels, we’re helping seniors each day to maximize their health and wellbeing by providing a full range of nutritional assistance – from learning each person’s unique likes and dislikes, to shopping for groceries, preparing healthy and enticing meals, and then serving as a friendly companion during those meals. Contact us at 408-735-0977 to learn more about our Sunnyvale home care services, or at 510-284-0000 in Fremont and take the first step towards better health for your senior loved one!