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!

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.

Is Mobilising Becoming More Difficult For The Elderly?

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Mobility is problem for many people, did you know that:

• In the UK 18% of individuals, aged between, 50 and 64 years have problems with mobility, that is a staggering 1.8 million people in England and Wales
• There are estimated to be 11 million people with a disability, around 20% of the population.
• The numbers with mobility problems increase with age with 78% of those over 85 have some form of disability.
• There are around 1.2 million wheelchair users in England.

This articles looks at mobility devices and walking aids and the help that Home Care can give…Read On.

 

Need Help To Prevent Muscle Loss? Improving Diet And Exercise Can Help

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Muscle loss can be a common factor amongst the elderly. The ageing process can make the body frailer making exercising more difficult. This means that individuals can lose muscle tone which can make it more difficult to complete daily living tasks, which will cause them to lose their independence. In order for individuals to maintain their independence for as long as possible the best solution would be to exercise on a regular basis, and ensure that an adequate level of protein is consumed as part of a balanced diet.

How Exercise Can Help

Exercise can be extremely beneficial in preventing or reducing muscle loss. With regular exercise muscles are being worked and toned. This reduces the chances of muscle wastage, and this in turn can leave an individual feeling fitter and stronger. This is extremely beneficial particularly in the elderly because it allows them to maintain their independence for much longer, in comparison to those who don’t exercise regularly.

How Can Protein Help Prevent Muscle Loss

An individual’s diet can have a significant impact on muscle tone amongst the elderly. Protein is of particular importance because its main purpose is to aid growth and repair of the body. There are many foods that contain high levels of protein, including: fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and whole grains. These foods can be very beneficial in preventing muscle loss, as proteins are essential for maintaining and repairing body cells which is essential in the elderly, who can struggle with muscle loss as a result of periods of inactivity. This in turn can lead to individuals losing their independence.

For women in particular it is vitally important that an adequate amount of protein is consumed. This is because most sources of protein contain high levels of iron, which is a key nutrient. Another reason why protein is particularly important for women is because they are more susceptible to developing osteoporosis, and this can cause all sorts of mobility problems which can lead to muscle loss.

Muscle Loss And Home Care

For those who are struggling to complete daily living activities within their homes as a result of muscle loss, Home Care may provide a helpful solution. Individuals can work with care workers to complete exercises that will help to improve muscle tone and stability. This in turn can help them to become stronger, and this will help them to be able to complete daily living tasks with greater ease, and will help individuals to maintain a level of independence for longer.
Home Care workers can also help to increase an individual’s confidence and self-esteem through using gentle exercises to build muscle tone. This is beneficial because it can help an individual to feel more confident in completing activities.

Working with a care worker to complete exercises on a regular basis can be extremely beneficial for the elderly. It provides them with additional help and support, which in turn allows them to build their confidence and self-esteem. This can be particularly important for those where muscle loss may be an issue, because it gives them the confidence to get out into the community where they can partake in a regular exercise regime.

In conclusion it is of vital importance that all individuals maintain a level of fitness through actively taking part in exercise on a regular basis in order to improve muscle tone. This is important, particularly amongst the elderly because it is easy to lose mobility and this can have a significant impact on individual’s independence. Protein is a key factor in an individual’s diet in terms of maintaining muscle tone because it aids growth and repair, and as part of a balanced diet can help to provide an individual with the energy that they need in order to complete the exercise that is vital for maintaining muscle tone and preventing muscle loss.