Dark Chocolate Easter Eggs for The Elderly

Dark Chocolate Easter Eggs for The Elderly

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There are many studies online that provide different nutritional guidance when it comes to improving and maintaining the health and general wellbeing of the elderly. As it is Easter, we wanted to draw your attention to particular good news about Dark Chocolate.

Dark Chocolate for some people may be considered as a lavish and indulgent treat. However, now is the ideal time to treat yourself or a loved one to a delicious dark chocolate Easter Egg. After all, there are studies out there about the health benefits from Dark Chocolate.

Here is why you might treat yourself this Easter:

Natural Mood Enhancement

Dark Chocolate is known to stimulate your body’s production of endorphins. Endorphins are a type of chemical that your neurons use to communicate with each other. They interact with receptors in our brains that can trigger a positive and happy feeling.

Chocolate also has another mood enhancing chemical in it called Phenylethylalanine. Phenylethylalanine gives you the feelings that are associated to those of falling in love. It also can combine with a chemical called dopamine that is already present in our brain to act as an anti-depressant.

Brain Power

It has been found that dark chocolate contains flavanols (a natural compound found in plants) that can improve the blood flow to our brains. Increased blood flow may not only improve your memory but also increase your attention span and improve your reaction times.

One study even discovered that older people consuming more flavanols scored better in some cognitive tests.

Antioxidant

Organic compounds such as flavanols and polyphenol found in dark chocolate can function as antioxidants in our bodies.  Antioxidants are really important as they protect our tissues and cells from the damage of free radicals.

Reliance on online studies is not always best for us but in the case of Dark Chocolate use it as a good excuse to treat yourself or your elderly loved one to an egg this Easter.

Does someone you know need support at home with 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 our team at Everycare on 01962 842548.

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!

Walking Your Way To Better Health

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With the start of 2014 many people’s attentions are turned to New Year’s Resolutions, and the one at the top of many list being to get fit and healthier. This however can be a difficult goal to achieve for some, particularly those who are older, or have a health condition that can make it difficult to get out and about.
What Can You Do To Get Fitter And Healthier?

Getting fitter and healthier doesn’t have to mean spending hours of your time working out at a gym. This is an activity that isn’t for everyone, and there are plenty of easier ways of getting healthier.

In Winchester The National ‘Walking for Health’ Scheme has been put into place. This scheme provides those within the local community with the opportunity to participate in a number of health walks.
The scheme currently runs seven local health walks a week led by trained walkers, and are free and open to all. They are designed specifically for those who are suffering from a long term health condition and those who are currently inactive to help them to get out and about.

There are a number of benefits to participating in a health walk, for example they are social events within the local community which means that they give you the opportunity to socialise and create new friendships, whilst exploring the local area and building up your fitness.
Other Ways Of Getting Fitter And Healthier

There are a number of easy ways to improve fitness and overall health that can be accessed by anyone in the local community. For example in Winchester the River Park Leisure Centre offer a wide range of activities for the 50+ to help everyone to stay active for longer. These activities include: Badminton, Swimming, Yoga, Tai Chi, Tennis and Keep Fit classes. Which all can have a number of benefits to your daily life and overall health and well-being.

For members only River Park Leisure Centre also Offers the Winchester Fitness And Sports Club which is designed specifically to provide those who are over 50 with the opportunity to participate in a number of different activities to maintain fitness levels. These activities include: Aquacise, Bowls, Pilates, and Racket Ball.

Staying Active

Staying active can have a number of health benefits, and can leave you with more energy and able to do more things independently. This is particularly beneficial as we age as it means that we are able to stay independent for much longer, reducing the need for additional support, and increases the chances of staying at home for much longer.

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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.

Could Poor Diet Be Causing Health Problems In The Elderly?

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Diet plays a significant factor in daily life for everyone, this is because dietary choices can have a huge impact on our overall health and well-being. As we age it becomes increasingly important to watch what we eat in order to ensure that we are getting all of the nutrients that we need as is a well known fact that the body changes as we age, and in order to maintain a healthy, independent lifestyle, and the best way of doing this is by ensuring you follow a balanced diet.

The symptoms of poor diet or malnutrition can be weight loss, disorientation, light headedness, lethargy and loss of appetite and be easily mistaken for illness or disease.

A previous study in the UK showed that over 70,000 people die in the UK each year due to poor diet and these people could have lived another 10 years. In the US a study showed that over 40% of people die due to lifestyle choices, diet being a big part of this.

What is a balanced diet?

A balanced diet ensures that you stay healthy by providing you with all of the nutrients that your body needs, from all of the major food groups. These are fruit and vegetables (aim for five a day), fibre, dairy , protein , and small amounts of sugar can be beneficial for maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Fibre

It is important that as we age our fibre intake increases, and this is because the elderly are at greater risk of experiencing digestive problems such as constipation. Foods high in fibre include: bread, rice, breakfast cereals and pasta. The wholegrain varieties contain higher levels of fibre. Other sources of fibre include: potatoes, beans, lentils, peas, oats, fruit and vegetables. Fibre has been proven to have a number of health benefits including: preventing diabetes, heart disease, weight gain and some cancers.

Iron

Iron is key to ensuring the body stays healthy. Sources of iron include: red meat, although no more than 70g (cooked weight) a day, oily fish, eggs, and pulses have also been found to be good sources of iron. It is essential that adequate iron levels are maintained because iron deficiency can cause a number of health problems including: weakness, damaged immunity, and cognitive function.

Calcium

Calcium rich foods and drinks play a key role in older individual’s diet. This is because Osteoporosis is a major health issue that impacts the elderly, especially women. Osteoporosis is where the bone density decreases and the risk of fractures increases. Calcium rich foods include: dairy products, canned fish with bones (e.g. sardines), soya beans, tofu, and green leafy vegetables.

Sodium

Sodium levels can have a major impact on the health of an older individual, as high sodium levels can cause a number of health problems including: high blood pressure, heart disease, and confusion. The best way of avoiding a high sodium diet would be by not adding salt into meals. Checking food labels is also another useful way to ensure that you are not exceeding the recommended daily amount of salt.

Vitamins A and D

Vitamin D maintains healthy bones, as it can help to absorb calcium. Sources of vitamin D include: exposure to sunlight, eggs, oily fish, fortified cereals and spreads. It is important that elderly individuals get an adequate level of vitamin D in order to prevent conditions such as Osteoporosis. Vitamin A levels need to be monitored too much can increase the likelihood of bone fractures. Foods such as liver are high in vitamin A and shouldn’t be eaten more than once a week.

Lack of Appetite and Thirst

As we age it is likely that we will want to eat and drink less, or become less interested in food and drink. This is because as we age we generally become less active, meaning that we are burning fewer calories. Other reasons that older people may experience a loss of appetite include: poor mobility, as food preparation and shopping become difficult, and lack of interest. For example individual’s may have no interest in cooking and preparing meals, a method of ensuring that they eat would be to buy convenience foods such as tinned or microwaveable meals.

Home Care

Home care packages could be a beneficial way of ensuring that an elderly individual is receiving all of the nutrients that they need to maintain a balanced diet. This could be effective because a care worker would be able to visit the individual on a regular basis to assist with or to prepare meals for the individual. This would be beneficial because it ensures that they are eating an adequate amount of food and receiving all of the nutrients that they need in order to maintain a balanced diet. This type of home care package could also be beneficial because it could increase an individual’s interest in food, which in turn could increase their independence for longer.