3 Themes for Preventing Senior Malnutrition

Posted on

Jun 25, 2021

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Inpart oneof this two-part blog series, we went over three of the broad cause categories when it comes to senior malnutrition. Some seniors struggle with parts of their nutrition due to various physical, psychological or social issues, but caregivers or family members along with seniors themselves can take several prudent steps to work around these concerns.
At Cozy Retire, were proud to offer numerouscaring assisted living services, including nutritional assistance and several related themes for any of our residents who need some help here. Weve assisted many seniors who have struggled with malnutrition in the past, often with assistance from their family or caregivers. Todays part two of our series will go over some of the possible results ofmalnutrition in seniors, plus some important themes for preventing this from happening.
Common Results of Senior Malnutrition
In part one, we went over many ofthe causes of senior malnutrition. If such conditions are allowed to persist, some of the negative results seniors may experience include:

Healing: Seniors with improper nutrition often will not heal normally, whether were talking wounds or some other issue.
Immune system: Down similar lines, the bodys immune system is impacted by malnutrition, often leading to increased disease and infection risk.
Weakness: Both muscles and bones will weaken as a result of malnutrition, and when combined with additional senior risks in these areas, the potential for falls and injuries is far higher.
Hospitalization and death: And when seniors withpoor nutritionbecome sick, they are more likely to be hospitalized or even for their life to be at risk.

Preventing Senior Malnutrition
If youre a caregiver or family member of a senior who may have malnutrition concerns, there are luckily several steps you can take to prevent such risks. Many of these themes are also observed by our assisted living staff, and they include the following areas:

Observation: Without invading on personal space, observe basic nutrition areas like how much food is eaten, habits and other areas.
Meal plans: For seniors who struggle to make their own food or stick to consistent eating habits, help promote schedules, shopping lists and advanced planning. There are many at-home services that will also assist with this, such as food delivery or others.
Weight: Help a senior loved on check their weight, plus track it over time.
Medications: As medications may impact nutrition in a few areas, you should also track these the proper dosages, schedules and how various medications may affect appetite.
Exercise: Wherever possible and realistic, encourage physical activity to trigger the appetite and keep bones and muscles healthy.

Nutritious Choices
Down related lines, family members or caregivers can also play a role in promoting nutritious food choices. A few themes:

Nutrients: Things like fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean meats and fish all have high levels of quality nutrients.
Snacks: For those who like to snack between meals, consider low-fat dairy or various fruits and vegetables first.
Flavor: If your loved one prefers more variety in meals, utilize herbs and spices to mix it up.
Supplements: For seniors who struggle with calory intake or certain nutrients they dont get enough of, various supplements or nutritional drinks are a great resource.

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5 Best Superfoods for Older Adults

You are what you eat. While this idea might be overblown, its not a baseless claim. Good health has a lot to do with your diet. A healthy, well-balanced diet boots and maintains health, even when other factors like genetics emerge. And as you age, the foundation of a nutritious, beneficial diet is even more critical as chronic illnesses become more likely.Additionally, a nutritious diet can help offset natural decline, helping you to maintain strength, cognitive function, and bone mass. You can give yourself an edge when you choose nutrient-dense foods that boost areas of health more efficiently. You can only eat so many calories in a day, so making each one count can tremendously impact your physical well-being.Here, youll find a list of superfoods, their benefits, and what foods contain them.What Are Superfoods?Science doesnt define superfoods or categorize food based on this concept. However, nutrition experts use this term to distinguish foods that are more nutrient dense than others and are therefore more beneficial to health. In other words, these foods pack the most punch in terms of nutrition.They are functional foods that contain more nutrients than other foods. Functional foods are essentially foods that have meaningful nutritional value. For example, an apple is a functional food, but potato chips arent. Superfoods are considered the stars of functional foods.Why Should Seniors Eat More Superfoods?As a senior adult, your body is in another season of change as your various systems shift into decline. You need fewer calories and are more prone to disease and decreased function. This means you have fewer calories available to deliver nutrition to your body. Rather than eating 1,500 calories of nutrient-poor foods, you should focus on eating the same amount of calories in the form of nutrient-rich foods. This can help sustain and boost your health as you face the challenges of aging.Why do older adults need fewer calories?Aging affects your digestive system, slowing motility, which means food passes through your system more slowly. Your body also digests and absorbs nutrients less efficiently. This means that its best not to overload your system with food and calories, and the nutrients you consume arent absorbed into your system as effectively as they once were. You must eat more nutrients to compensate for the lack of efficient absorption and distribution.The loss of muscle mass as you age means youre naturally burning fewer calories. This combined with other changes that make older adults less active than in previous years means that overall calorie needs are lower. And yet, your nutritional needs increase. This is where superfoods serve an important purpose for senior adults.1. Green, Leafy Vegetables Are a SuperfoodGreen leafy veggies are packed with antioxidants that remove free radicals from your body. These unstable molecules build up in your cells and damage the cells around them. This process is known to cause many diseases associated with aging like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.You can lower your risk of developing these diseases when you minimize free radicals. Superfoods such as leafy greens fight to rid these foes from your body and are a great ally in the fight against unhealthy aging and disease.Leafy greens are also high in vitamin K, which helps protect you from osteoporosis and blood clots. Other notable nutrients packed inside this superfood include folate, magnesium, and potassium.According to The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, seniors should eat 2.5 cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit daily. Several days per week, including dark, leafy greens like these into your diet:ArugulaBok choyChardCollard greensKaleSpinachSwiss chardWatercress2. Certain Berries Are a SuperfoodAll berries contain high amounts of antioxidants but some excel in this area. Examples of superfood berries include:BlueberriesCranberriesGoji berriesStrawberriesBlackberriesRaspberriesWhile all are legitimate superfoods with incredible antioxidant benefits, blueberries steal the show. Their specific nutrient profile indicates that they also help fight cognitive decline and age-related memory loss.Just be sure to eat your berries fresh or frozen rather than with lots of added sugar. Otherwise, youre working against yourself as the sugar promotes all the health negatives youre trying to address with superfoods.Try to eat a half cup of blueberries, or the berry of your choice, daily.3. Salmon and Fatty Fish Are a SuperfoodSalmon is a fatty fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids that help lower your risk for heart disease. But its also high in protein, which is necessary for maintaining muscle mass and strength as you age. Protein is a macronutrient thats processed less efficiently with age. So, its important to eat protein-rich foods to ensure you meet your daily needs. To learn more, read our article, 10 Protein Myths to Leave Behind for Good.This combination of omega-3 fatty acids and protein make salmon and similar fatty fish a type of superfood that boosts health as you age. But its also packed with selenium, vitamin D, and other important vitamins.An easy salmon recipe includes baking it on a sheet pan with potatoes and asparagus. Season as desired and cook at 400 degrees. Bake the potatoes first for about 10 minutes before adding the salmon and asparagus, baking for another 15 minutes.4. Eggs Are a SuperfoodFeeling confused about the benefits of eggs? For a while, there was a wide-reaching campaign against the now revered food. It claimed that eggs raised cholesterol significantly and should be avoided. This led to people eating egg whites only to avoid artery-clogging consequences. But is that necessary?According to Harvard Medical School, all the panic about eggs isnt necessary. Large, reputable studies have found that most of the cholesterol in our bodies is produced by our liver when we consume saturated and trans fats. What we most want to minimize is saturated fats and not dietary cholesterol. The conclusion is that an egg a day, provided its not paired with foods high in saturated fat, wont negatively affect your blood cholesterol.You could potentially have more than one per day, but if you want to play it safe, there is little reason to think an egg each day would harm your health.But dont skip the yoke! This is where all the nutrients reside. These key nutrients include high doses of selenium, which help you fight free radicals and infection. Eggs also contain vitamin D, B12, and choline, which regulates mood and memory. And all these benefits with only 1.6 grams of saturated fat per large egg!5. Plain Greek Yogurt Is a SuperfoodNotice it is plain Greek yogurt that is most beneficial. When you buy it with added sugar, youre subtracting much from its benefits as the sugar negates some of the positive effects on gut health (probiotics) and promotes the age-related disease youre trying to prevent by eating the superfood.You can add some natural sweetness to your plain yogurt by adding another superfood such as berries. You can also try adding a small amount of natural sweetener like Stevia or Monk fruit to make it more enjoyable.Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt, and its a healthy way to consume lean protein thats low in saturated fat. Its also high in calcium, which is a huge benefit to senior adults who are trying to maintain bone mass and prevent osteoporosis.Greek yogurt is also known as a key source for probiotics, which keep your digestive tract (gut) healthy. Your gut health can have a major impact on whole-body wellness. You can learn more from our article, How Gut Health Dramatically Impacts Your Life (and Tips for Keeping It Balanced).If youre lactose sensitive, you may still be able to enjoy the health benefits of plain Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt contains less milk-sugar lactose than other dairy products. And the good bacteria found in the probiotics consume much of the lactose present. You may find your system is more tolerant of Greek yogurt.A good rule of thumb is to have about 6-8 ounces of plain Greek yogurt per day. If cholesterol is a concern, opt for nonfat, plain Greek yogurt to minimize saturated fat.Focus Your Diet on SuperfoodsIf you want to live out your golden years with maximum health and be proactive, consider planning your meals and grocery store trips around key superfoods. Choose several per week to be your focus until you discover which ones are most enjoyable and easier to implement as part of your routine diet.With a little forethought and planning, you can lay a foundation of nutrition that helps maintain the health you have, help you manage existing health conditions, or even prevent the onset of disease.A great way to start your day is a superfood-rich breakfast smoothie. Try blending a cup of plain Greek yogurt, a half-cup of berries, a handful of kale or spinach. For added sweetness, you can include a splash of fruit juice or a tablespoon of Stevia or Monk Fruit. 

Top Foods for Individuals with Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's, a brain condition affecting millions globally, has no known cure. Recent studies indicate that diet can play a role in managing symptoms and potentially slowing down the progression of the disease. Consuming foods rich in nutrients can promote brain health, reduce inflammation, and boost cognitive abilities. This article delves into the recommended foods for those with Alzheimer's, shedding light on how they contribute to health.1. Green Leafy VegetablesGreen leafy veggies such as spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are packed with nutrients that support brain function. They are abundant in vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta-carotene, all associated with a decline in cognitive abilities. Research indicates that regular consumption of these greens may enhance memory and cognitive performance.Benefits:Vitamin K: Crucial for cognitive processes and minimizing neuronal damage.Folate: Aids brain cell function and lowers homocysteine levels, a risk factor for neurodegenerative conditions.Lutein and Beta Carotene: Antioxidants that safeguard brain cells against harm.2. Fatty FishRich in omega-3 fatty acids like DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are highly beneficial for brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in maintaining brain health, managing inflammation, and supporting the function of neurons.Reasons for Their Benefits:DHA (docosahexaenoic acid): Essential for brain structure and cognitive performance.EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid): Helps reduce inflammation, a factor in the progression of Alzheimer's disease.Enhances Synaptic Plasticity: Boosts the brain's capacity to establish connections.3. BerriesBerries like blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are packed with antioxidants, particularly flavonoids. These compounds aid in reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which contribute significantly to Alzheimer's disease.Reasons for Their Benefits:Anthocyanins: Enhance communication between brain cells and decrease inflammation.Flavonoids: Associated with slower cognitive decline and improved memory.Polyphenols: Safeguard neurons and improve brain function.4. NutsNuts, especially walnuts, are sources of healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E that benefit brain health. Regular nut consumption is linked to enhanced cognitive function and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.Reasons for Their Benefits:Vitamin E: An antioxidant that shields cells from oxidative damage.Healthy Fats: Maintain brain structure and function.Omega-3s in Walnuts: Contribute to decreased inflammation and better neuron communication.5. Whole GrainsIncluding grains like oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa in your diet provides a consistent supply of glucose, which is essential for fueling the brain. These grains are also packed with fiber promoting overall health.Benefits:Stable Energy Levels: Prevents energy crashes that can affect cognitive abilities.B Vitamins: Support brain function and help reduce brain inflammation.Fiber: Supports a healthy gut microbiome, which is connected to brain well-being.6. TurmericTurmeric contains curcumin, a compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin can penetrate the blood-brain barrier and may assist in reducing the formation of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease.How It Helps:Anti-inflammatory Effects: Reduces inflammation in the brain related to cognitive decline.Antioxidant Properties: Shields brain cells from oxidative damage.Reduction of Amyloid Plaques: May aid in preventing protein buildup in the brain.7. Cruciferous VegetablesCruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are rich in antioxidants and vital nutrients that support brain health.How They Help:Sulforaphane: An antioxidant that safeguards brain cells and decreases inflammation.Vitamin K and Folate: Support cognitive function and maintain brain cell health.Detoxifying Compounds: Help eliminate toxins that can harm the brain.8. SeedsSeeds such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber. They promote brain health and overall well-being.Why They Are Beneficial:Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Improve cognitive function and reduce inflammation.Magnesium: Supports brain health and functioning.Fiber: Supports a healthy gut, which is connected to brain health.9. LegumesLegumes like lentils, beans, and chickpeas are sources of protein, fiber, and B vitamins. They offer a steady energy supply and promote overall brain health.Why They Are Helpful:Protein: Essential for the upkeep and repair of brain cells.B Vitamins: Support neurotransmitter function and lower homocysteine levels.Fiber: Encourages a healthy gut microbiome.10. Dark ChocolateDark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% or higher) contains flavonoids, caffeine, and antioxidants. It is known to enhance brain function and defend against cognitive decline.Why It Is Beneficial:Flavonoids: Enhance memory and cognitive function.Caffeine: Boosts brain activity and alertness.Antioxidants: Safeguard brain cells from oxidative stress.11. CoffeeCoffee is known for its caffeine and antioxidant content. Drinking coffee in moderation has been associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and improved cognitive abilities.Reasons for Benefits:Caffeine: Can boost alertness and cognitive performance.Antioxidants: Help protect brain cells.Compounds in Coffee: May play a role in reducing the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease.12. Olive OilOlive oil, particularly extra-virgin olive oil, is packed with monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Studies have indicated that it can enhance brain function and guard against cognitive decline.Reasons for Benefits:Monounsaturated Fats: Beneficial for brain health.Polyphenols: Reduce inflammation and safeguard brain cells.Oleocanthal: Might aid in clearing amyloid plaques from the brain.13. TomatoesTomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that shields brain cells from harm. Regular consumption of tomatoes may help lower the risk of cognitive decline.Reasons for Benefits:Lycopene: Combats oxidative stress and inflammation to protect brain cells.Vitamins A and C: Support overall brain health.Folate: Essential for cognitive function.14. AvocadosAvocados are packed with healthy fats, fiber, and essential vitamins. They help to maintain brain health by enhancing blood circulation and lowering blood pressure, both of which are crucial for cognitive abilities.Reasons for Their Effects:Monounsaturated Fats: Aid in supporting brain structure and function.Vitamin E: Acts as an antioxidant that shields brain cells.Folate: Promotes cognitive performance and the well-being of brain cells.15. EggsEggs are a source of choline, a nutrient essential for brain wellness. They also offer protein and essential vitamins that assist in cognitive functions.Reasons for Their Impact:Choline: Essential for producing acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory.B Vitamins: Enhance brain activity and help reduce inflammation.Protein: Necessary for the repair and maintenance of brain cells.16. OrangesOranges are rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that safeguards brain cells from harm. Regular consumption of oranges can enhance cognitive function and lower the risk of cognitive decline.Reasons for Their Beneficial Effects:Vitamin C: Shields brain cells from oxidative stress.Folate: Boosts cognitive performance.Potassium: Promotes healthy blood pressure levels and optimal brain function.17. Green TeaGreen tea is packed with antioxidants, particularly catechins, which play a role in supporting brain health. It also contains caffeine and L-theanine known to enhance brain function while reducing anxiety symptoms.How It Helps:Catechins: Protect brain cells from damage and improve cognitive function.L-theanine: Promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety.Caffeine: Enhances alertness and cognitive function.18. ApplesApples are rich in quercetin, an antioxidant that protects brain cells from damage. They also provide fiber and essential vitamins that support overall health.Why They Help:Quercetin: Protects brain cells from oxidative stress.Fiber: Promotes a healthy gut, linked to better brain health.Vitamin C: Supports cognitive function and brain health.19. CarrotsCarrots are high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that protects brain cells from damage. Regular consumption of carrots can help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.Why They Help:Beta-Carotene: Protects brain cells from oxidative stress.Vitamin A: Supports brain health.Fiber: Promotes a healthy gut microbiome.20. BroccoliBroccoli is rich in antioxidants, vitamin K, and anti-inflammatory compounds. It supports brain health by protecting against oxidative stress and reducing inflammation.Why It Helps:Sulforaphane: An antioxidant that protects brain cells.Vitamin K: Supports cognitive function.Anti-inflammatory Compounds: Reduce inflammation in the brain.Incorporating foods rich in anti-inflammatory compounds can help decrease inflammation associated with cognitive decline, offering notable benefits for the brain health of individuals with Alzheimer's disease.

Senior Nutrition

Senior Nutrition: Top 5 Healthy Eating Tips for Older AdultsPosted: September 21, 2023 in Healthy Living , Activities and LifestyleGood nutrition is important, no matter your age. Eating right is how your body gets vital nutrients: substances that our bodies need so they can function and grow, like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and even water. But as you age, your body and life change, and so does what you need to stay healthywhich is why senior nutrition is such an important topic.Many people dont realize how big of a role nutrition plays in their long-term health and happiness. They may have a general sense of what healthy means, but knowing and doing are, of course, two different things. Lets take a closer look at what special considerations adults over 50 need to know about nutrition that can help them lead longer, healthier lives.5 Things Everyone Should Know About Senior NutritionOlder Adults Need Fewer Calories, But More NutrientsWe all know that finding the right balance of calories is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight throughout adulthood. But older adults generally need fewer calories than they used to due to changes in metabolism, physical activity levels, and age-related loss of muscle mass.However, while you may need fewer calories, you still need the same amount of nutrients, if not more. Nutrients are crucial for energy and weight control. They can also help prevent some diseases, like osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.Foods to Focus OnOver 50, its more important than ever to cut empty calories like sodas, chips, candies, and alcohol. Instead, focus on calorie-light but nutrient-packed foods, such as:Fruits and vegetables (choose different types with bright colors)Whole grains, like oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, and brown riceFat-free or low-fat milk and cheese, or soy or rice milk that has added vitamin D and calciumSeafood, lean meats, poultry, and eggsBeans, nuts, and seedsProtein Plays a Role in Fall PreventionDespite needing fewer calories, older adults actually have higher protein requirements than younger adultsespecially if theyre dealing with an illness. Our bodies progressively lose muscle mass, strength, and function over time, beginning as early as our 30s. When people get older, their bodies cant process protein as efficiently, especially in the face of stressful situations like chronic disease, acute illness, or hospitalization. That means seniors need to get more protein from their diet to support and preserve muscle mass.  Why Is Muscle Mass So Important? Muscle loss and general weakness resulting from inadequate nutrition can lead to falls. Every year, one out of four older adults experience a fall, which can have serious physical and mental health consequences. Fall prevention is a multifaceted but highly important part of overall health and wellness in older age.Additionally, studies have suggested that older adults who consume more protein are more capable of performing activities of daily living for longer. When muscle mass is preserved, everyday functions like getting out of bed, bathing and dressing, and moving around the house may be, too! A Good Time to Focus on Good CarbohydratesCarbs have a bad reputation these days, with the rise in low-carb diets sweeping the nation. But for a balanced diet, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends carbohydrates make up 45%-65% of every adults diet. Instead of cutting carbs entirely, nutrition is about focusing on the right carbohydrates to support energy and digestion.There are good and bad carbohydrates, and the bad ones only cause more problems as we age. Bad carbs are simple: they are mostly starches or sugars, stripped of nutrients, and make blood sugar levels spike quickly. Good carbohydrates are complex: they are mostly fibers and other beneficial nutrients, which are slower to digest, helping regulate blood sugar and feelings of fullness.Good Carbs (Complex)Bad Carbs (Simple)Whole-grain bread, pasta, rice, oatmeal, baked goods containing whole-what flourWhite bread, white paste, white rice, baked goods containing white flourNuts and seedsProcessed foods like potato chips, crackers, breakfast cerealLegumes (lentils, beans, etc.)SodaFruits and vegetables with edible skinsSugary desserts and candiesThe Low-Down on SodiumSodium (aka salt) is another nutrient that has a bad reputation, though it comes by it honestly. Sodium is necessary for proper body function: it helps maintain fluid balance, conducts nerve impulses, and helps with muscle contraction. However, most American adults get too much sodium, which contributes to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.There are also special considerations for seniors. As we age, our kidney function naturally decreases, which can make it harder to remove excess sodium from the body. That means taking special care to limit sodium intake to less than 2,300mg per dayabout the equivalent of one teaspoon of table salt.Vitamin D & CalciumWe know that the sun helps our bodies produce Vitamin D. But not only is sun exposure risky for our healthour skin also changes as we get older, becoming less adept at producing Vitamin D. That means we need to rely more on food sources and supplements to get it. Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium, which is why taking both together is so crucial for building and maintaining healthy bones. Research shows that it can prevent and even improve osteoporosis, a condition that leads to weak, brittle bones. Older adultseven those who already struggle with weakness or frailtycan develop stronger muscles and reduce their fall risk with adequate Vitamin D levels.Your doctor can help you determine the right amount of Vitamin D for your diet and recommend a supplement. You can also focus on eating foods like:Egg yolksFatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardinesOrange juiceYogurtMilkMushroomsGet Online Resources to Support Meal Planning & More!Prioritizing nutrition can be challenging for seniors, and navigating each consideration can feel a little daunting. If you or your loved one faces challenges with accessing and preparing healthy foods or has other barriers like difficulty chewing or swallowing, help is out there! At ComForCare, weve prepared a free meal planning guide filled with simple yet nutritious recipes developed with seniors unique needs in mind. This guide is packed with helpful tips, recipes, and advice for caring for a loved one with dietary barriers. Plus, you can join us on Facebook every Thursday at 1 pm EST for the latest episode of Care Kitchen, our live cooking program led by chef Steve Toll! Were always exploring new ways to support and inspire creativity in cooking, whether for yourself or for loved ones in your care. ComForCare: Compassionate, Personalized In-Home Care for Older AdultsIf you or your loved one need more help planning and preparing nutritious meals, ComForCares caregivers can help. Our in-home care services can be personalized to support your needs, including meal prep, personal care, transportation, and more. Learn more about our care services or reach out to your local team today to find your perfect caregiver!  ComForCare NW Pittsburgh covers Northern Allegheny, Butler, Beaver and Lawrence Counties.  They can be reached at (724) 759.7674 or by email mbarron@comforcare.com