Seniors and Nutrition

Are seniors eating right? This is a question you should be asking yourself if you are a senior, or if there is a senior you care about. Older adults have all heard what they should be eating everyday. Three servings of fat-free milk, cheese or yogurt. Three or more servings of whole grain products and a variety of fruits and vegetables. How many of our senior population is actually meeting these daily requirements?

The American Dietetic Association has estimated only about 60 percent of older adults in home care and 40 to 85 percent of those in outside care are getting the proper nutrition; others are at risk for malnutrition. This means that many of our senior population has inadequate nutrient intake.

In 2005, the United States Department of Agriculture released its innovative My Pyramid food guidelines system and updated dietary guidelines for Americans, advocating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables; whole grains; lean meats, poultry, fish ,beans ,eggs and nuts; and fat-free or low-fat milk products. In addition to good eating, the dietary guidelines recommended a supplement of vitamin B12 for older consumers through fortified food or supplements.

Many seniors are wondering what they have to do to get the proper nutrition as it can seem complicated.

Six ideas for what you can do to improve your nutrition:

  1. Take a multivitamin formulated for seniors.
  2. Eat plenty of fresh, frozen, dried and/or canned fruits and vegetables.
  3. Choose fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, including lactose free or lactose
    reduced yogurts, and natural cheeses.
  4. Lighten up on meats, alternating lean cuts with protein-packed poultry, beans, fish,
    nuts and seeds.
  5. Try to get 10 to 15 minutes of direct sunlight exposure at least three times per week.
  6. Make sure to include vitamin D fortified dairy products.

For many older adults, getting to the grocery store is not as easy as it use to be. In fact one in five adults skip meals daily and for seniors, sometimes walking, shopping, purchasing, and cooking their own food can be a challenge. For older adults with local support networks (friends, family, and neighbors) getting to the grocery store becomes much easier. Eating is a social time having social interaction can make all the difference in the world. Sharing a meal with a senior relative or friend can make this a wonderful experience for all.

To help our senior population one of the best known providers of food to our friends who may need a little extra help is the Meals-on-Wheels Association of America.

Meals- on- Wheels is the oldest and largest organization in the United States representing those who provide meal service to people in need. Their mission is to support the independence and well-being of seniors. Meals-on-Wheels contributes to the overall well-being of seniors by providing regular nutrition and daily contact with a caring volunteer. Please get involved if you think their may be someone who would benefit from this type of service. Contact the Meals-on-Wheels Association in your area.

We may be as young as we feel, but as our bodies reach “senior” status, good nutrition-important throughout our lifetime-becomes imperative.
~A.D.A.

2 Comments

  1. Virginia
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for writing about senior nutrition and offering excellent suggestions. I had an aunt who became healthier after she went into assisted living due to the better nutrition she was receiving. Would challenges in getting adequate nutrition be a factor in decideding whether or not a relative should go into assisted living?

  2. Aegis Living - Senior Living Communities
    Posted July 6, 2009 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Special nutrition needs should be considered when looking for an assisted living community. Learn more about the community's culinary services program and their flexibility in meal planning. If they are like Aegis their Culinary Services Director can create special meals to meet any dietary needs.

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