Assessing the diet of older adults is especially important for identifying issues relevant to their present health and nutritional status. Far too many people over the age of 65 are considered malnourished and this can also have an impact on bone health. Having a balanced and nutritious diet is one way to help our bone health as we age. So many times just a few minor adjustments or interventions can reduce or eliminate the problem.
There are some special considerations of nutritional needs of the aging body that are relevant to be emphasized. Caloric needs decline with age because of a decrease in basal metabolism related to the loss of lean tissue and a decrease in physical activity.
Unfortunately, as we age, our senses of smell and taste aren’t as sharp as they were when we were younger, so consequently our diets suffer. Other factors, including social, economic and lifestyle situations, as well as the capacity to function, all play important roles in consuming the proper foods. Therefore, what our eating habits were when we were younger may not be sufficient for our present older age. It doesn’t take very long for an aging person to get into trouble medically once the diet starts to deviate from what his or her body needs.
The ticket to maintaining independence and quality of life as we age can be achieved in a healthful lifestyle that combines an adequate intake of essential nutrients with regular physical activity.
Some simple suggestions might be:
- Keep cupboards and refrigerator stocked with milk (or milk substitutes like soy or almond milk), eggs, whole-grain bread and tortillas, whole-grain pita bread, canned beans, jars of quality spaghetti sauce, rice, whole-grain pasta or noodles, potatoes, yams, onions, canned soups and broth, and cooking oil.
- Serving sized portions of various meats and vegetables in the freezer for easy access, quick defrost and preparation can be available at all times.
- Keep fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt or cheese and popcorn on hand for easy-to-grab snacks.
- Simplify cooking and clean-up.
- Consider whole food vegetable and fruit supplements which are easily digested and absorbed by the body. (These supplements are different than vitamin supplements which target specific deficiencies).
- A recipe book with protein powder enriched power shake recipes can provide ideas for a nutrient-dense meal replacement when appetite is low.
- Consider digestion enhancing teas after meals like Chai, Peppermint or Green Tea.
- Growing fresh, organic, nutrient-dense herbs and vegetables in easy care flower pots, or the newer aeroponic planters can be an enjoyable, cost effective, healthy hobby year round.
- A 15 minute walk and some fresh air does wonders to stimulate appetite.
Just a little bit of cooperation with your body can go a long way to maintaining your mental status, your health, your independence and your satisfaction with life. Don’t torture yourself with malnutrition. The consequences of doing so are not worth the price you have to pay.
Written by: Patty Hopker, Coach, Author and Public Speaker
About the Author
Patty Hopker is a Coach, Author and Public Speaker who has investigated over 2,000 elder abuse cases during the past 18 years. With her education in Nutrition, Psychology, Criminology and concentrated studies in lifestyles, Patty has created strategies at multiple levels and living conditions where she has helped, supported and mediated with her Senior clients, their families and care providers for positive outcomes. Contact Patty for Coaching or Public Speaking and purchase Patty’s latest book, “Senior Satisfaction Revealed–Three Steps for a Secure and Fulfilling Life” at: www.seniorsatisfactionrevealed.com. Patty also provides whole food supplements and organic gardening tools through her webite at www.pattyhopker.juiceplus.com.
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