Healthy diet and ways to improve it for the elderly

HEALTH IS WEALTH

A balanced diet and workable ways are the keys to good health for the not so young. Like everyone else, the elderly need a balanced diet to preserve their good health and maintain their quality of life.

As we grow older, a lot of changes (physiological, psychological, and economic) take place that can contribute to poor nutrition among the elderly. It is at this period that we should look into the diet of elderly people by designing a food plan consistent with their nutritional needs.

Here are some changes that occur with aging and the solutions to be done to overcome these changes.

1. Poor dentition, loss of teeth, ill-fitting dentures can cause chewing problem making eating difficult.

Solution: Chop, grind, or blend foods that are hard to chew. If necessary, moisten with gravy or broth. Mash or strain cooked vegetables or fruit, and remove tough skin or seeds. Substitute softer, protein-rich foods such as fish, poultry, eggs, legumes (munggo), tokwa, cheese, and peanut butter, for regular meals.

2. Lack of Appetite

Solution: Serve meals attractively, using a variety of foods with different flavors, colors, shapes, temperatures, textures and smell. Stimulate appetite with a walk (if possible) before the meal. Take your time eating and eat with other people as often as possible. Six small meals a day are tolerated than three big meals.

3. Limited secretion of stomach acid leading to poor absorption of nutrients like vitamin B12, folic acid, calcium, iron, and zinc and may result in deficiencies.

Solution: Increase dietary sources of such vitamins and minerals. Consider/take supplements with the doctor’s approval. Include fortified foods in your daily diet to increase the intake of micronutrients.

4. Loneliness, loss of companionship which may lead to disinterest in eating.

Solution: Eating is a social activity. Make a mealtime more enjoyable by inviting family members as often as possible to improve the social setting of the meal. Have a hobby. Join a club and participate in community activities. (to be continued)