A myriad of specific elderly nutrition problems tend to increase as we age — and proper nutrition is often more difficult to get. Nutrition (or lack of it) in our older loved ones is often hidden
And it may be difficult to discover exactly what it going on.

When Dad first moved from Arizona into his assisted living facility back here, he was 93. One of the first things I noticed was his lack of appetite. It was not just from the stress of moving, but was a long-term issue. He ate like a bird, ate very little protein, but lots of salt and sugar. Lots of snacks.This was not like him. He had always been astute with his nutrition.

So I immediately had to make sure plenty of healthy snack food (including with protein) was always on hand, plus be sure that he got at least one good protein meal a day. (See our page on delicious elderly nutrition snacks).

Certainly, taking vitamins and supplements can help. And a balanced diet plan is a must. Nutritious recipes for cooking can help. We know all these things, at least in the back of our minds. But the consequences of not getting enough high nutrition foods is very serious.

Consequences…

Proper elderly nutrition and eating habits are crucial to maintain quality of life: control blood sugar levels to avoid diabetes, maintain good vision, a positive mood, good sleep, better eyesight, energy, bone and muscle strength, digestion, good elimination, etc. These are severely affected with poor diet, causing sometimes serious elderly nutrition problems.

Startling Studies and Statistics

Some of the studies I came upon floored me. Elderly nutrition problems are, and have been, an important concern for health officials — the Centers for Disease Control estimate that by 2030 the U.S. population will double, to about 71 million older adults. That is about one in every five people.

We are, as they say, on the “brink of a longevity revolution.” It is crucial that we focus on a healthy lifestyle, and nutrition tops the list.

In 2000 the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion did a study with a group of elderly, their nutrition, and elderly nutrition problems. The average age in the study was 72.3 years old, with 48% men and 52% women.

They concluded that elderly who did not eat sufficient amounts of quality food (i.e. meat, fish, vegetables) took in, of course, less calories, good carbs, good fats, and protein. Key vitamins and minerals (such as the B’s, iron and zinc) that are crucial to brain and immune system function were also lacking. They thus were more greatly susceptible to infection, as well as cognitive disorders and chronic illness.

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) studies also say that of Americans over age 65, malnutrition and obesity are common. This can be partly due to having to cheap, nutrition-less food. Because of budget concerns. In fact, the studies indicate that if the elderly receive what is known as “nutritional intervention,” many diseases could be prevented.

One of the most startling studies to me was this…
Intervention studies
indicate that malnutrition is a major reason for hospitalization for the elderly — one of the more severe elderly nutrition problems. As we age have the same Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) as when we were young, with Vitamins D, B6, and calcium as exceptions.

Yet the elderly don’t need as many calories. I certainly realized this with Dad. So with less calories, often these needed nutrients are not obtained. Women need even fewer calories, so can have even a more difficult time.

It is evident that highly nutritious foods with lower calories are vital, and a wide variety of foods in moderate portions. But many elderly enjoy comfort food and snacking — often their choices are not healthy.

Dad loved to just nibble. He got to a point when he only vaguely cared about the nutritional value of his food. I had to care for him. So healthy  snacks are a very important means of getting those nutrient-dense foods.

Food Stamps can assist the elderly in obtaining healthy groceries, yet according to the U.S. government, very few participate because of lack of information about the program and as importantly, about nutritional need. They do not perceive that there is an elderly nutrition problem. Many elderly also perceive a negative stigma attached to Food Stamps.

There are other elderly nutrition problems, however. They’re serious, sometimes subtle elderly dietary problems are from changes in eating patterns. And we need to get to the root of it, as they pose a real health threat.

There are many reasons for poor eating
Like the inability to grocery shop, poor digestion, chewing difficulties including difficulties with dentures, poor appetite. Loved ones may pick at food, or even forget to eat. Or they might just like what they like, and it’s not necessarily all good. And oh how stubborn older folks can sometimes be!

There are also specialty concerns, such as diabetes. And if your loved one has any kind of serious vision loss, there is a special recommended nutrition for eyes that you should know about. It’s particularly for vision and macular degeneration nutrition. This eye disease is one of Dad’s major issues. Macular degeneration extremely common. So I was particularly interested in anything that can help prevent or help this. An eye doctor can tell you about this particular nutrition for eyes if you are concerned.

Solutions

No doubt a number of preventative measures can assist in elderly heath besides good nutrition.

Also important are regular exercise (which aids in all body functions including digestion), quitting tobacco products, and getting regular preventative medical check-ups, including for dementia screening (dementia greatly impacts eating and nutrition), and depression. Other issues can occur with elderly nutritition food safety as well, and we discuss more solutions on that page.

An interesting consideration which I personally have used for years, — Goat milk products have special properties that can help provide proper nutrition for the elderly. You can read more about this topic at a web site called Everything Goat Milk; see Elderly Nutrition and Goat Milk.

The Centers for Disease Control state that although there is, of course, a higher possibility of poor health as we age, it is not an inevitable consequence!

Follow our link below and learn more about elderly nutrition and what you can do.

Easy Healthy Recipes — Our “recipe central,” with lots of great recipes and links within our site to take you to more healthy recipes you might like to find out more about.
Healthy Snack Recipes — Especially important for those with elderly nutrition problems. Learn lots of easy and nutritious recipes.
Delicious Healthy Dessert Recipes — Something for almost everyone, including those with sugar, carb, and fat restrictions. Learn new recipes and ideas for sweetening the healthy way.

Our Share Your Recipe Forums — Where our readers have shared their own recipes right on our web site. You can too. Our readers would love to hear from you!!
Share Your Healthy Desserts
More Healthy Snack Recipes – From You


to Elderly Nutrition

These timeless life lessons quotes by Regina Brett (first published in 2006 in The Plain Dealer) are so concise and so right-on with ways for how to get happy, that I just had to share them on my web site. Read each carefully, and you will see how each can increase your happiness quotient. And they are easy to do!

  1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
  2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
  6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
  8. It’s OK to get angry with God — He can take it.
  9. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.
  10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
  11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
  12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
  13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  14. If a relationship has to be secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
  15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry — God never blinks.
  16. Life is too short for pity parties. Get busy living — or get busy dying.
  17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
  18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
  19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood — but the second one is up to you and no one else.
  20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take “no” for an answer.
  21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie — don’t save it for a special occasion. TODAY is special!
  22. Over-prepare — then “go with the flow.”
  23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
  24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
  25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
  27. Always choose life.
  28. Forgive everyone everything.
  29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  30. Time heals almost everything — give time — time.
  31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
  33. Believe in miracles.
  34. God loves you because of who God is — not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
  35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
  36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.
  37. Your children get only one childhood — make it memorable.
  38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.
  39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
  40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
  41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
  42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful, or joyful.
  43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
  44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  45. The best is yet to come.
  46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
  47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
  48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  49. Yield.
  50. Life isn’t tied with a bow — but it’s still a gift.

Many other life lessons are personal to anyone who makes it to a ripe old age (and after all, what is that?). One of my Dad’s often-quoted life lessons is to wake up each morning satisfied and cheerful. And he is, despite being almost deaf and blind. He’s a real insiration. One of my own favorite life lessons, as the song goes, is … “If you get a choice to sit it out or dance…I hope you dance!”

Elderly nutrition is of utmost importance as we age in order to maintain our health and quality of life. I sure learned that when caring for Dad. But following a nutritious diet is not always easy. (I also learned that!)

Especially for senior citizens. As we age we undergo sometimes sudden changes physically, mentally, emotionally. All of these can impact eating and nutrition. As the saying goes, “We are what we eat.”

I became especially aware of this when Dad moved here from Arizona, at age 93. Particularly when he eventually moved in to live with me. He’d always been really into nutrition and healthy food and was a really good cook. But as he aged that became more difficult. I was startling to see just what he was (and was not eating) when he lived at the assisted living facility before moving in with me.

Elderly Eating Issues

Elderly sometimes lose their appetites from a myriad of reasons, and don’t eat correctly. They may not feel like eating or are simply lonely. Or depressed. They may have trouble with their teeth and trouble chewing. They may not have the energy, or are on limited budgets and buy inexpensive and non-nutritious foods. Whatever the reason, being aware of elderly nutrition is vital.

It can make an enormous difference in disease control for the heart, blood pressure, stroke, dementia, blood sugar; and for healing and maintaining all-important vision as we age.

And elderly like to snack, like Dad did.
But on what? Or they may enjoy good old comfort food. Well, maybe some is okay. Like a little chocolate — there are, after all, some health benefits of chocolate. But certain comfort food can be surprisingly terrible for us.

We have lots of tips about healthy snacking! See our recommended snacks to just have on hand, on the Elderly Nutrition Snacks page. There are loads of super-healthy (and delicious) suggestions for snackers of any age. Especially great for those who don’t or can’t cook, have small appetites, and snack a lot. Now you can make sure to get plenty of nutrition.

Today’s elderly may not have been eating with the awareness of nutrition and foods that we now have, and thus have developed eating habits that may have led to current health issues, or are in danger of causing others (for example: lots of butter and other fats, a lot of foods high in sodium — which my Dad just loved — large amounts of dairy, sugar, canned and over-cooked foods, lots of red meat, bad carbs and starches). Plus all the easy, empty, harmful snack foods available now.

How Can It Make A Difference?

Eating and snacking with proper nutrition can make a huge impact on quality of life.

For instance, my children’s great-grandparents simply cut way down on sugars, fats, and junk snack foods, and began taking multiple vitamin-mineral supplements — when they were in their mid-80’s. (Under the supervision of their doctor). Within weeks they reported that they felt more energetic and happy. And had better “internal plumbing” activity. They slept better. Their cholesterol and blood pressure also improved. They lived at home, relatively healthily, until they were both in the mid-90’s.

What About Supplements?

I personally believe taking a vitamin-mineral supplement is a good idea, especially since our over-used soil does not contain the same amount of nutrients as before, so even fresh food may be lacking. Again, my kids great-grandparents, who live into their  mid-90s, always took supplements with their doctor’s OK.

When a family member (a nurse) convinced them it wasn’t necessary, they stopped. And felt immediate repercussions with lack of energy, getting sick, and foggy minds. When they resumed taking supplements, they felt better within weeks. Dad has taken a supplement for decades. But always consult a medical professional first.

So what can you do
to assure good elderly nutrition?

We address these issues further in our various pages about elderly nutrition, and have lots of tips. It’s great information for anyone, not just elderly.
See list of topics below.

You may have some understanding about the basic food groups that are recommended for everyone.

From time to time the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) revises the original 1992 Food Pyramid, to an updated version. It was called MyPyramid.gov now called ChooseMyPlate.gov, Their overall motto now is, “One size does not fit all.”  You can even complete a short online form about your age, height, weight, gender, exercise, etc., and you will receive a recommended food plan just for you. Again, this is only in general terms, but it is very helpful for an appropriate elderly nutrition plan.

Here’s a quick review of the basic food groups:
 – Grains (whole grains), vegetables, fruits, milk, meat and beans, and also oils (liquid oils, nuts, some fish, olives, avocados) —

What you should eat depends on your age, gender, weight, exercise, and health issues. These basic food groups will help point you in the right direction of finding resources for your specific needs. Your doctor should ultimately advise you about your diet.

Besides diet, regular exercise is always recommended. It is ideal to make a goal of 20 to 30 minutes per day (which can be divided into two sessions), four days per week. Even elderly with limited mobility can usually be taught appropriate exercise. See our pages on Easy Exercise for Seniors, including what my dad does at age 97!

See More Tips About Elderly Nutrition

Elder Nutrition Problems — Learn about specific nutrition problems for the elderly, why they happen, and what to do.Some may be more subtle and you may not realize what is happening. Some, to me, were a bit shocking.
Healthy Snack Recipes — Healthy snack recipes are becoming almost a rage these days. And we’ve got some super-delicious, super-easy, super-healthy ones for all ages. I had to learn all about healthy snacking when I started taking care of Dad.
Delicious Healthy Dessert Recipes — Our healthy dessert recipes are delicious and fresh. Lots of ways to modify and use them too, including for low salt or sugar ideas. Some are from Dad’s own recipe book, and he was a great cook! Check these out!


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