Nutrition for Life


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By Martie Cruz

 

It's hard to believe that, after a lifetime of putting food on the table for others, a senior would spend their older years malnourished. But it is an issue that hits home for many families, even those who have access to an abundance of healthy foods.

 

There are a number of risk factors that contribute to senior malnutrition, including:

 

  • Eating alone: More than three-fourths (76 percent) of seniors who live alone eat alone most of the time, according to Home Instead Senior Care network research, but a majority of seniors say they eat more nutritiously (and the food actually tastes better) when eating with others. Here are some tips and resources for planning more family meals.
  • Multiple medications: Different medications can affect a senior's appetite and some might even interfere with their body's ability to absorb nutrients. If you suspect this might be an issue, talk to the older adult's doctor about what you can do to help solve it.
  • Illness: No matter what age you are, when you're sick, you don't always feel like eating. Older adults facing health complications may go through long periods when food doesn't taste good or seems unappealing. Preparing favorite family recipes together (with as much input from the older person as they are willing and able to give), may help revive their interest.
  • Transportation: We often take grocery shopping for granted, but when an older adult has stopped driving they might also lose the ability to regularly purchase fresh foods – leading to a diet of packaged and processed "meals." Arranging for grocery trips or delivery at least once a week can go a long way toward helping a non-driving senior achieve a healthier diet.
  • Preparation problems: A number of conditions including arthritis, the inability to stand for long periods, dementia, etc. can make daily food preparation impractical for older adults. A program like Meals on Wheels, or hiring a professional CAREGiver to help with meal preparation can help.

 

For more information on healthy aging in place, please contact us.

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