There are a number of age-related concerns that can have an impact on senior nutrition, but new research is revealing that it’s more important than ever to maintain a healthy diet for seniors: the potential impact on cognitive function. And it may surprise you to learn that malnutrition in seniors is actually quite common. Per the National Resource on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Aging, as many as of 35 to 50 percent of the senior residents in long-term care facilities are faced with malnutrition, along with as many as 65 percent of older hospitalized adults.
Malnourished seniors are twice as prone to visit the physician, and three times as prone to being hospitalized. They also experience decreased muscle strength and poor healing. And that’s not all; a recent study points to the role of a healthy diet for seniors in cognitive functioning as well. Healthy Aging and Longevity research reveals a disturbing link between the dietary patterns we establish during our adult years, and age-related cognitive decline and dementia risk.
To reduce the risk of developing dementia, the recommendation is for seniors to maintain a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, cereals and fish, and low in saturated fats.
Of particular note: seniors with diabetes are particularly sensitive to the foods they eat. An older person with diabetes will, for instance, experience a decline in memory function following a meal, especially when consuming simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, soft drinks, candy, etc. While the specific physiological mechanisms underlying these dietary effects are not fully known, the modulation of brain insulin is more than likely a factor.
Making the best decisions about your diet today can be beneficial in reducing the risk for cognitive decline in later years. Follow the steps below to help improve nutrition for the seniors you love now:
- Choose healthy options at each meal; for instance, replace simple carbs with complex ones (green vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc.)
- Stick to a healthy weight and BMI
- Control blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Exercise routinely
- Seek help from a dietitian or the experts in elderly care
Although it may be easier for seniors to grab a quick snack than to prepare a healthy meal, partnering with Endeavor In-Home Care can help ensure nutritious options are always on hand. We can pick up groceries (or provide transportation and accompaniment for the senior to go shopping), plan and prepare wholesome meals, and even clean up the kitchen afterwards. Contact us at 480-498-2324 to learn more about our personalized, professional Chandler, AZ elder care services. View our full service area here.