What’s on your plate?
A recent study shows that a serious problem among our country’s seniors is the lack of proper nutrition. Proper nutrition is important for all of us but it is particularly important for seniors to help them fight disease. We cannot underestimate the value of good nutrition which can help seniors live longer, sharpen the mind as a good defense against Alzheimer’s disease, and increase energy levels that can result in a happier lifestyle.
There are many obstacles for seniors to getting proper nutrition. Loneliness and depression can cause a lack of interest and loss of appetite. Dental problems can cause difficulty in chewing. Lack of transportation to purchase food supplies may be a problem. Economic reasons may also pose a problem. The side effects of some medications can cause a lack of appetite. The loss of desire to cook can result in seniors consuming empty calories with no nutritional benefit.
The intent of this article is not to offer specific diet recommendations but to sound the alarm as to the importance of nutrition in the lives of seniors. Family members, friends, and caregivers should be on alert to help seniors make healthy food choices. A healthy and balanced diet should include fruit, veggies, calcium, grains and protein. Eating foods high in dietary fiber and minimizing food with high sodium content should also be encouraged and monitored. As seniors age they are prone to dehydration so sufficient fluid intake should be maintained as well. A vitamin supplement to include Vitamin B and Vitamin D may be desirable. A Dietitian should be consulted in cases of extreme malnutrition.
If finances are a problem, the United State Department of Agriculture funds several different food assistance programs for the elderly, including the Food Stamp Program, the Nutrition Program for the Elderly, Commodity Supplemental Food Program-Elderly, Child and Adult Care Food Program.