There are a few main factors that contribute to the topic of the elderly and their proper nutrition.
1. Access to food
2. Digestive health
3. Food preference
4. Monetary allocation
5. General and oral health
Many seniors are considered malnourished. This is mainly related to the fact that they rely on canned foods, frozen foods, or foods that are easily consumed and digested, like simple carbohydrates. These food options are usually loaded with sugar, salt, chemicals, and preservatives. In recent studies, over 70% of the aging population suffers from malnutrition.
As individuals age, they may lose their appetite, defer to convenience foods, or forget to eat altogether if there are any cognitive impairment disorders like dementia, or Alzheimer’s.
Water plays a huge role in the bodies overall general nutrition. For those of us living in Florida’s warm climate, it’s imperative to stay hydrated throughout the entire year. In general, people can’t survive for more than 3-4 days without water. It’s critical for helping to remove bodily waste, regulating blood pressure and keeping your brain function alert. Without water, you can develop urinary tract infections, renal failure, confusion, fainting, low blood pressure, constipation, rapid heart rate and even death.
If there are any issues with digestion, the elderly usually tend to try and eat bland foods, like saltines, high-sodium soups, and processed cereals. This can lead to a deficiency in protein, fats, vitamins and minerals, which are highly important for feeding the brain, muscles, and joints. Along with raising blood pressure due to a higher volume of salt intake, these types of foods can also contribute to diabetic complications from an overabundance of insulin resistance from excess sugars.
Healthy digestion starts with the mouth. If teeth are missing, or dentures are ill fitting, this can cause issues with proper nutrients being absorbed and utilized. Oral health is often overlooked, but fortunately, it is quite often an easy fix, which allows geriatric patients to start eating properly again.
Many assisted living or lower income geriatric apartment facilities that house the aging population, report that their residents are struggling with having enough money at the end of each month to buy the proper foods at the grocery store. It’s unfortunately not uncommon for some older residents to resort to eating dog and cat food because it is a cheaper source of protein for them to purchase. And worse, some residents don’t have any food at all. Many of these facilities take donations, if you have the opportunity to donate food, it can help out the older generation immensely.
Sometimes it can be quite difficult for seniors to feed themselves, due to arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, or complications from a stroke or TIA. If this is the case, they’re at an extremely high risk of becoming malnourished and dehydrated very quickly. These folks most likely will need help several times a day, or around the clock. Often times they’ll require assistance with other daily activities as well. This is where an occupational therapist can be of great help, as they train the patient on ways to ease their daily tasks, like getting in and out of a chair, reaching into cabinets and feeding themselves.
The AARP has reported that 89% of elderly patients prefer to remain in their own homes, even if they require additional help or assistance. This is easily achievable through a qualified home health agency.
If you or a loved one are in need of assistance after a hospitalization, for short-term care, or for long-term care due to another health issue, CareTime Home Health is the only local agency that also operates a medical training facility. This enables them to find and train the very best caregivers. They have RN certified case managers along with an experienced team of compassionate, competent, licensed nursing assistants, and others, provide the bridge that enables your loved ones to be cared for in the comfort and familiar surroundings of home. They provide a free in-home comprehensive assessment to determine a plan specifically designed to meet the client’s needs. Their staff is licensed, insured, experienced and go through a rigorous training process so that you are assured of the best fit for your loved one.
Along with treating patients in their private homes, at Caretime, they can also provide assistance to those individuals living in facilities, whether it’s an assisted living, skilled nursing, or nursing home.
To find out more, please visit their website at caretimeflorida.com, or call (352) 624-0570