Nutrition for the elderly – what you need to know

Nutrition for the elderly – what you need to know

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As we age, our bodies’ nutritional needs change. However, change doesn’t have to be bad, nor does it have to mean surviving on soft, bland food or boiled cabbage!

Everycare Winchester know to how to provide the best care for you, but when it comes to nutrition, do you know how to best care for your own needs? To help you move and look as young as you feel, we’ve listed below the essential components for a healthy diet (and we promise there isn’t a boiled cabbage in sight!)

Variety is vital  

The more variety in your diet, the healthier your gut flora will be. The health of your gut is paramount to your overall wellbeing, affecting everything from memory and mood to immunity and skin.

A great way to ensure you’re consuming an array of nutrients is to ‘eat the rainbow’. Sadly, we’re not talking about eating endless amounts of Skittles, but a rainbow spectrum of fruit and vegetables. Every colour provides a different health benefit, like orange vegetables are packed full of vitamin A which is great for eye sight, and purple hues provide potent antioxidants that fight ageing free-radicals.

Don’t be afraid to try new foods. We’re sure by now you know exactly what you like and what you don’t, but you’re never too old to try something new. You never know, you might discover a new favourite!

Pass the salt

As we age, we become more sensitive to salt, so a lower sodium intake can benefit those with high blood pressure; reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Unfortunately, this may mean you need to pay extra attention to any packaged food you buy and the amount of salt you use to season your food. Most pre-packaged food already contains high levels of salts, so when you sprinkle on extra you’re likely to be consuming more than your recommended daily allowance of sodium, 2.4g sodium/ 6g of salt.

Tip: Swap standard table salt (which is processed to contain sodium and 0 minerals) for naturally occurring Himalayan pink salt (which contains 84 minerals including all 6 electrolytes our bodies require). Plus, Himalayan salt tastes saltier therefore less is needed!

Up your fibre

Digestive health can be an issue amongst older people with many suffering from constipation. One way to improve digestive and bowel health is to increase the amount of fibre in your diet.

Fibre can help prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol, aid diabetics by balancing blood-sugar levels, lower the risk of certain cancers and slow the rate at which nutrients are broken down so you stay energised for longer.

Fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, legumes, oats, whole grains, seeds like flax and chia and powders like psyllium husk are all great sources of fibre.

Eat omega 3’s

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid (EFA), so called because it is needed by the body but cannot be manufactured in the body; it must be obtained via diet.

EFA’s have been found to aid brain, heart, eye, joint and skin health. They prevent abnormal neuron function, reduce the risk of macular degeneration, lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, decrease joint stiffness and inflammation, moisturise skin and reduce the risk of wound infection.

Foods rich in omega 3’s include: oily fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines), flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soy beans and spinach.

Supplement for strong bones

Many people are deficient in vitamin D and calcium, particularly amongst the older generation.

Older individuals tend to eat less, have limited diets and venture out less, therefore their bodies are receiving little calcium and vitamin D.  In addition, our bodies’ ability to absorb vitamins and minerals decreases with age too. For example, the skin of an elderly person produces 4× less vitamin D compared to a younger individual when exposed to sunlight for the same amount of time.

Both calcium and vitamin D are needed to maintain strong bones which are especially important for seniors who are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis, as well as falling.

Our main source of vitamin D comes from sunshine, as only traces can be found in foods like mushrooms, egg yolks and oily fish. Calcium can be found in dairy, seeds, beans, lentils, leafy greens and fish with edible bones like sardines and canned salmon.

Unless you have retired abroad and are currently sunning yourself on a roof terrace, you ought to take a vitamin D supplement, especially during the months of October to March. Ideally, choose a supplement with both vitamin D and calcium for maximum vitamin/mineral absorption and strong bones.

Stay hydrated

Did you know dehydration is one of the biggest causes of hospitalisation in older adults?

The human body is composed of approximately 60% water. However, that water percentage decreases with age which means the risk of dehydration increases.

If your body is dehydrated it struggles to regulate temperature, transport nutrients around your body and lubricate joints. This will likely result in feeling cold, tired and achy.

Aim to drink 2 litres of water a day and ensure fluids are always readily available to you. Keep a bottle of water next to your bed or on your coffee table so it’s always near to hand!

A tipple & a treat

Good news, alcohol and chocolate are firmly on the menu.

Red wine and dark chocolate (70% cocoa +) both contain flavanols which can provide a myriad of health benefits. They can aid brain health by protecting neurons, help the brain’s ability to learn new information, improve memory and cognitive functioning, help blood circulation which regulates body temperature, reduces fatigue and reduces foot/hand swelling, so pass the wine (for a small glass every now and then!)

It’s important to note that portion control is required; 30 to 60g dark 70% cocoa and 175ml wine is enough to reap the benefits.

A final word

Food is not just fuel, it’s a way to nourish your body, ignite your taste buds and bring you joy. Be mindful of the ingredients you are putting into your body, but most of all, enjoy what you’re eating.  Life’s too short for overcooked cabbage and stodgy mush!

Maintaining A Healthy And Active Lifestyle

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More people are reaching the age of retirement as a nation people are living longer than ever before, the result for the future may mean higher numbers of elderly people with ill health, evidently putting a strain upon care resources and services. Which is why it has never been more important to watch and look after our own health and nutrition in the later stages of life.

As we age our bodies change which may pose a number of challenges as people become less mobile and more frail. In extreme cases some can become malnourished, resulting in low immune systems and an increased percentage of the elderly developing further health issues. Getting older can change our eating habits, sometimes resulting in lack of appetite and motivation when it comes to having a nutritionally balanced meal. The page provided here by Nutritionist Resource gives a number of hints and tips on how to maintain a healthy diet later on in life nutritionist-resource.org.uk/articles/adults-elderly.html.

One of the best ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle is by following a balanced diet which can be catered towards the individuals specific needs. Qualified nutritionists will be able to identify specific needs and deficiencies which need to be addressed, and will help to formulate a programme for the individual. To find a local nutritionist expert in your area visit Nutritionist Resource: nutritionist-resource.org.uk/.

Our sources of information:

Age UK have some information on Healthy Eating
NHS Eatwell Plate showing a good mix of foods to eat.
Web MD advice on Missing Nutrients those that you may not be getting in your diet.

As for an Active Lifestyle, it is a sad fact that only one in four people between the age of 65 and 74 exercise regularly. There is an assumption that people are too sick, out-of-shape or old to exercise, this is totally wrong.

Exercise is nearly always good for you. Exercise can make you stronger, prevent bones getting weaker, improve your balance and coordination which helps to prevent falls, exercise can also improve your memory and can ease the symptoms of chronic illnesses.

People believe that getting frail as you age is inevitable but getting frail is usually due to not doing any exercise. There are people in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s running marathons and doing body building. The advice is simple to start doing some exercise and think about getting active.

Resources:

NHS Exercises for Older People to get you active.
Help guide on Exercise and Fitness as you Age

Does someone you know need support at home in meal preparation?

Would you like a friend or family member to have company whilst out and about in the community?

If you would like to know more about support at home, contact Karen Whitmill at Everycare 01962 842548.

www.everycarehants.co.uk

How Can Maintaining An Active Lifestyle Benefit The Elderly?

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Population level studies have shown that people who exercise enjoy a higher quality of life and improved health status compared with those with sedentary behaviours, with subsequent reductions in their risk of admission to hospital.
Maintaining an active lifestyle is important for us all, did you know:
• 23.1% of individuals between the ages of 65-74 do not partake in any physical activities
• Partaking in 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week can help an individual to maintain independence
• There are a number of things an elderly individual can do to lead an active lifestlye
This article looks at how an elderly individual can stay active, the benefits of exercise and the help that Home Care can give…Read On.

Can Joint Replacements Keep The Elderly Active For Longer?

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Joint replacement, though starting early, became available more generally in the 1960s with hip replacements followed by knee replacements. Ankle and shoulder replacements are now available. Due to increases in the elderly population and improvements in surgical procedures the number of joint replacements has been increasing massively and is set to carry on increasing. It is predicted in the USA that between 2005 and 2030 hip replacements will grow by 174% to 572,000 and for knee replacements to grow by 673% to 3.48 million.

Data from 2011, in the UK, shows 80,314 hip replacements, 84,653 knee replacements and 492 ankle replacements, data on shoulder replacements was not collected in 2011. The data shows that most replacements occur due to osteoarthritis and the average age at replacement is around 68 years.

As we get older it is common for our posture and walking pattern to change. This is because many changes occur in the body as we age. For example bone density as lost during the ageing process, particularly in women after experiencing the menopause. During the age process joints may also get stiffer and less flexible. This is because the fluid in the joints can decrease and this means that the cartilage may begin to rub together and erode. Calcification (deposit of minerals around the joints) can occur particularly in the shoulder joint. The hip and knee joints are common areas for cartilage to be lost.

Effects age related changes can have on the body

Almost all elderly individuals are effected by joint changes in some way, and this can vary from stiffness to Arthritis. There are a number of effects that ageing can have on the body, for example bones can become brittle, and these means that they can become more prone to breaks. The most common effects that can occur include: inflammation, stiffness, pain and deformity as a result of a breakdown of the joints structure.

As a result of these changes within the body individual’s are more likely to become unsteady on their feet, and this can result in falls. This can have a major impact on an individual’s health and well-being, as falls can result in serious breakages, such as a hip fracture.

What can be done to help?

In serious cases joint replacements would be a viable option, as it can relieve pain and disability. It is common as people age for them to need knee or hip replacements. This is because these are joints that see a considerable amount of wear and tear throughout individual’s lives, though statistics show that many replacements are due to the pain from osteoarthritis which there is no current cure for.

The procedure for a joint replacement involves removing the damaged joint and then an artificial joint (either made of a metal alloy or ceramic) is put in place. This can either be cemented or non-cemented. Cemented means that the artificial joint has been fixed to the remaining bone with cement, and this is quite often used in older individuals as their ability to heal is more limited. Non-cemented joint replacements allow the bones to naturally grow around the replacement to fix it into place. This is generally used in cases where younger individuals or more active individual’s need joint replacements. This is because it can provide more flexibility and movement in the long term. However with this method of joint replacement healing time may take considerably longer than a cemented joint replacement as the bones need the opportunity to grow.

Recovery time following a joint replacement can be particularly long, and an individual may require countless hours of physiotherapy and support in order to regain movement and flexibility. Generally individuals manage to regain a normal level of activity within two to three months of having the replacement, but it can take up to a year to make a full recovery and full benefits of the new joint. Following the surgery you would be enrolled into an exercise programme that is designed to help to gain strength and improve mobility of the new joint.

Home care and joint replacements

As a result of the surgery it is likely that you will be off of your feet for a while, and recovery may be slow, some extra help may be needed. It may be beneficial to implement a home care package in order to provide some additional support. A care worker would be able to visit to help with daily living tasks such as washing, dressing and preparation of meals. Care workers can also provide some support with some exercises in order to help build up strength in the new joint. The Care Worker can focus on getting you back to doing what would have normally been doing before the surgery.

Conclusion

In the UK history is showing that replacements are lasting 8 years without problems in many cases therefore people are prolonging their active lives. Having to redo work on joints is occurring in around 10% of cases and as more data is collected and shared with surgeons around the world the life of replacements is increasing and the level of issues is reducing.