Thursday, May 1, 2014

How is Your Nutritional Health?

When I attended the Senior Summit in Laguna Woods Village a few weeks ago, one of the topics I learned about was the problem of maintaining nutritional health when people age in their own homes.  The problem that many people face when they live alone is that they tend to not eat as well as people do when they have meals in the company of others.  Often, the elderly find themselves snacking on unhealthy foods or they skip meals altogether.

There are other issues that can affect the quality of your diet, as well.  Everyone over the age of 60 should periodically ask themselves the questions listed below.

Questions to Determine Your Nutritional Health

* Do you have a health problem that affects the kind or amount of food you eat?

* Do you eat less than two meals a day?

* Do you avoid eating vegetables, fruit and/or dairy products?

* Do you drink three or more moderate servings of alcoholic beverages a day?

*  Do you have tooth or mouth problems that make it hard for you to eat?

*  Do you lack the money to buy the food you need?

*  Do you eat alone most of the time?

*  Do you take three or more medications a day, whether they are prescribed or over-the-counter?

*  Have you unexpectedly gained or lost 10 or more pounds in the last 6 months?

*  Are you physically unable to shop, cook or feed yourself, even if you only have this problem occasionally?

Be honest with yourself.  If you answered yes to several of these questions, there is a good chance that your nutritional health is at risk.

Solutions for People Who are at Nutritional Risk

Fortunately, there are programs available to help you, if you will reach out for them.

*  Apply for food stamps, if the cost of food is part of your problem.  Many senior citizens who are primarily living on Social Security or a pension will qualify.

*  Go to a food bank for additional assistance.

*  Contact your local senior center; many of them offer low-cost meals in a group setting.  This gives you the opportunity to eat a good, warm meal while socializing with other people.

*  If you cannot get out of your home to go to the senior center, contact Meals-on-Wheels.  They will deliver nutritious meals to your home ... either on a temporary basis after surgery or on a permanent basis, if you need it.

The additional benefit of regularly dining at a senior center or having Meals-on-Wheels delivered to your home is that someone will be expecting to see you every day.  If something happens, you are more likely to receive timely assistance.

Statistics Behind the Nutrition Questions

Here are the statistics that explain why the above questions are so important:

*  Four out of five elderly adults have chronic diseases that affect their diet, including depression and memory loss.

*  Only 13% of adults eat what is considered the minimum amount of fruits and vegetables.

*  One in four older adults drink too much alcohol.

*  Approximately 40% of older citizens have very low incomes. If they are not spending enough money for food, they are probably not getting enough to eat.

*  One in three senior citizens eat alone; this can cause them to eat poorly or skip meals completely.

*  One-half of older Americans take multiple medications, some of which can have side effects like decreased appetite, drowsiness, diarrhea, nausea and other problems that can cause nutritional harm.

*  Unexplained weight gain or loss can be a sign of poor health.

*  One out of five older people have trouble shopping, buying and cooking their own food.

As you can see from the above statistics, nearly everyone will experience at least one or two of these barriers to a healthy diet as they age.  Many people will be affected by several of these issues.

Source for questions and statistics:

For more information on this topic, you may wish to read the full document from the Nutrition Screening Initiative

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1 comment:

  1. I know people who have used Meals on Wheels and find it very convenient. Nutrition is so important for the home-bound especially. Thanks for bringing this topic to our attention.


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