Nutrition for seniors: 7 lifestyle strategies that work.

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As we age, our nutritional needs change. Up until now, seniors have had to rely on the knowledge and advice of their doctors as their main source of nutrition advice. However, just because your doctor is still on board doesn’t mean you should stop asking questions. You should still be able to get a nutritional balancing diet tailored to your specific needs.

As the population of Baby Boomers continues to age, the number of seniors in the United States (about 75 million people in 2010) is expected to nearly double in the next two decades. Aging with grace is a choice and a lifestyle that one can embrace to meet urgent and life-saving medical needs and maximize the quality of life.

According to USDA, the number of Americans 65 and older is estimated to rise from 43 million in 2010 to 77 million in 2050. In order to prevent the rise in blood pressure and heart problems that come with aging, older adults should follow a healthful lifestyle that includes eating a balanced diet, staying physically active and getting regular checkups and screenings.

Is it possible that you’re forgetting things, feeling inept, struggling with loneliness, and perhaps not enjoying your daily life? Although aging is unavoidable, these signs and symptoms do not have to be. Here’s everything you need to know about the importance of lifestyle and nutrition for seniors, as well as 7 proven techniques to live not only longer, but better, whether you’re noticing them in yourself or coaching someone who is.

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When my grandfather’s health began to deteriorate, a small action helped him regain his independence.

For the past ten years, I’ve been counseling nutrition and teaching university nutrition courses. Thousands of people have benefited greatly from the health ideas I’ve shared with them.

No shift, however, has been as spectacular or inspiring as that of my grandfather.

My grandfather began to forget things a few years ago, when he was in his early eighties. He was late for appointments and frequently misplaced items such as his keys or reading glasses. His appetite dwindled, and he began to lose weight.

He took a nasty fall one day. He needed to be admitted to the hospital, and his bewilderment and disorientation grew worse during his stay. For my family, it was a low point.

After a thorough medical evaluation, it was concluded that he could no longer live independently at home. He was placed on a long-term care facility waiting list.

For a long time, my grandfather’s diet had been bad. I was aware that his diet consisted primarily of canned soup, chocolate milk, and the occasional banana. There aren’t nearly enough calories, and there aren’t nearly enough nutrient-dense, entire foods.

I was curious as to what effect this was having on him.

As a result, I conducted some research.

We discovered that my grandfather was lacking in a number of B-vitamins, primarily vitamin B1, or thiamine, after doing several blood tests.

What are the symptoms of thiamine deficiency?

Low appetite, weariness, memory loss, and disorientation are all symptoms of this condition.

I anticipated that treating these deficiencies would improve my grandfather’s function, so I placed him on a high-quality seniors’ multivitamin and suggested a few modest dietary changes.

My granddad was transformed a week later.

His appetite grew, and he became more clear-headed and coherent. He was discharged from the hospital, and his medical staff gave him the go-ahead to continue living freely.

My grandfather’s experience demonstrates something that many people are unaware of:

Even in older persons, simple dietary and lifestyle adjustments can drastically enhance quality of life.

That’s why, in this post, we’ll go over what we know about senior diet and lifestyle, including how these behaviors effect aging and how to make beneficial changes for yourself, clients, or loved ones.

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It’s not simply how many years you live that matters; it’s how you live them.

What is the point of eating the proper foods and taking the correct supplements if modern medicine can help us live longer?

We don’t want to simply live longer. We wish to live a long and healthy life.

How long you live is referred to as your life span.

Healthspan refers to how long you live.

Most of us don’t imagine living for a thousand years in a cryo-chamber connected to a set of cables that artificially sustain our basic functions when we talk about longevity.

We want a long healthspan — a state that allows us to travel and enjoy our retirement, run around with our grandchildren without aches and pains, and generally enjoy life feeling good in our bodies, minds, and hearts — in addition to a long lifetime.

Our finest instruments for extending our lives are good diet and healthy living choices.

While these habits can have a big impact on your health if you start them while you’re young, you can still make a difference by changing your diet and lifestyle after you’ve observed signs of aging.

These modifications won’t convert you into an ageless bionic superhuman, but they will help you age more gracefully and become more resilient.

Which aspects of aging do we have influence over?

Our bodies begin to change the moment we are born. These alterations last for the rest of one’s life.

Change is unavoidable…

Diagram showing some of the common changes in older age

…yet, our way of life has a big impact on how and when we age.

At 18, most of us have fantastic bodies: slender, pain-free, and immune to disease and injury. We can grumble about our squishy stomach, bum knee, or excessive blood sugar by the age of 68.

These alterations are sometimes referred to as “aging.” However, much of what we refer to as “aging” is simply the result of a lifetime of bad habits.

Soft midsections, bum knees, and high blood sugar levels are frequently the result of:

  • a lifetime of adhering to the “always finish your plate” dictum, regardless of the size of the plate; and
  • There was a lot of sitting, which caused the muscles that support the knees to atrophy.

Another 68-year-old who followed healthy behaviors like mindful eating, regular movement, strength training, and a well-balanced diet might not have those symptoms for a long time, if at all.

How we age - individual factors that are within our control

Let’s take a closer look…

Symptoms that affect the elderly

Some health problems are virtually exclusively associated with elderly age. While several factors play a role, lifestyle and nutrition habits can influence when and to what extent these problems appear.

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Arthritis

Arthritis is characterized by joint inflammation. Although there are various varieties of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the two most frequent.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease in which the immune system assaults the tissues of the joints. Pain, swelling, and redness result as a result of this.

Osteoarthritis is caused by the wear and tear of joints over time, resulting in pain that can range from mild to severe. Previous joint damage, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle are all risk factors.

Because both types of arthritis are caused by inflammation, eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3s and antioxidants can help support a healthy immune system response and manage symptoms.

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Alzheimer’s disease is an illness that affects people of all

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological illness that develops over time. Damage to brain cells, or neurons, diminishes their ability to communicate. Memory impairments, mood dysregulation, linguistic challenges, and even physical disability can emerge as a result of this.

Although the cause of Alzheimer’s disease is unknown, we do know that it runs in families, suggesting a genetic link.

Alzheimer’s disease has been dubbed “Type 3 diabetes” by some researchers because chronically high blood sugar (and insulin) appears to enhance inflammation and alter the size and development of the hippocampus (a brain structure essential to learning and memory).

Take care of your entire body to maintain brain health: exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, control blood sugar, and minimize or eliminate smoking and/or excessive alcohol intake.

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Cataracts

Cataracts develop when the lens of the eye becomes obscured by protein clumps or yellow-brown pigment.

Blurred vision, difficulty seeing in bright lights, difficulty seeing at night, and a reduced ability to discern colors are all possible symptoms. A person with cataracts may have difficulty driving, reading, and recognizing faces in advanced cases. Cataracts can lead to blindness if left untreated.

Smoking, severe unprotected sun exposure, high alcohol intake, and diabetes all raise the risk of cataracts.

A diet rich in antioxidants (found in dark green, purple, and orange fruits and vegetables) delivers nutrients that help to keep the eyes healthy.

Nutrition is more crucial than ever in later life.

As people get older, they have different nutritional concerns and requirements.

Energy requirements drop as people age, but nutritional requirements increase.

In general, the need for total calories decreases as a result of the physical and lifestyle changes that come with aging.

Nutrition in the form of nutrient-dense, well-absorbed foods and targeted supplementation, on the other hand, is more vital than ever.

Water

The danger of dehydration is higher in elderly people. This could be related to prescription medication side effects or a decreased sense of thirst (which is more common in those with Alzheimer’s disease or those who have had a stroke).

Dehydration:

  • raises the chances of a bladder infection and kidney damage;
  • thickens mucus in the lungs, making asthma and other lung problems worse; and
  • It lowers mental performance and makes you tired.

Water (preferably), herbal teas, broths, or liquid-based foods like smoothies and soups should all be consumed by older persons on a daily basis. Adjust the dosage as needed to meet medication requirements, if any.

To check your hydration, use the chart below.

The color of a person's urine is a clear indicator of their hydration levels

Note that certain drugs and B-vitamins might cause urine to darken or change color.

Tip: To improve water consumption, post written reminders around the house or set a timer to remind you to drink water every 1-2 hours during the day. Caretakers should make water conveniently accessible and use appropriate drinking containers for persons with mobility difficulties (who have trouble getting up to drink) or tremors (who have trouble keeping a glass steady) (e.g. cups with spill proof lids, or straws to help those with diminished strength or shaky hands).

Vitamin & Minerals

People who consume a lot of antioxidant vitamins (particularly from nutrient-dense whole foods) have a lower risk of major chronic diseases including heart attack and stroke, according to studies.

While most vitamin and mineral requirements rise with age due to decreased absorption or prescription interactions, certain requirements fall.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A (retinol) supplementation should be avoided as absorption of the vitamin increases with age. The greatest way for older people to receive vitamin A is through diet.

Adults should strive for 2,000-2,500 IU of vitamin A per day, which can be obtained via retinol-rich foods such as liver, dairy products, and fish. See the recommendations below for carotenoids, the plant form of vitamin A.

B12 (cobalamin)

We become less efficient in absorbing vitamin B12, which is important for brain and nervous system health, as we age. A blood test is used to confirm the deficiency. Fatigue, dizziness or lack of balance, and impaired mental performance are some of the symptoms.

Adults require 2.4 micrograms of B12 per day, which can be obtained from foods such as eggs, dairy products, meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, and fortified foods.

If supplementation is necessary (as determined by a blood test), choose B12 injections or drops/lozenges that dissolve under the tongue because they are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. If you have a deficiency, take 1,000 mcg every day until your levels are back to normal.

Vitamin D

The immune system, hormones, bones, and brain all benefit from vitamin D. Our ability to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight decreases as we get older. Vitamin D insufficiency is fairly frequent, especially in northern climes. Because vitamin D does not exist naturally in large levels in food, moderate sun exposure and vitamin D supplementation are recommended.

Depending on the severity of deficiency, adults should take between 800 and 4000 IU of vitamin D each day. Because vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning it can only be absorbed in the presence of fat, it’s best to take it with fatty foods.

Carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin E are all antioxidants.

These vitamins have antioxidant capabilities and are necessary for tissue health and disease prevention. The lens of the eye, in particular, is easily oxidized, resulting in macular degeneration and cataracts.

Avoid supplements, particularly those containing vitamin E and beta-carotene, as they have been proven in studies to be useless or even dangerous, especially for smokers and those at risk of heart disease. As a result, food is the best source of these nutrients.

Carotenoids can be found in orange and yellow-colored plants such as sweet potatoes, squash, and carrots, as well as dark leafy greens like spinach, beet greens, and kale.

Nuts, seeds, nut butters, and wheat germ all contain vitamin E.

Consume a variety of fresh (uncooked) fruits and vegetables every day to meet your vitamin C requirements.

Calcium

Calcium is required to control heart rate and maintain bone mass, but absorption decreases as we get older.

Calcium intake for men and women over the age of 50 should be 1200 mg per day. Calcium should be obtained from entire meals including dairy products, cooked greens, and calcium-fortified foods.

Iron

Low energy, poor concentration, and dizziness are all symptoms of iron deficiency. Later in life, iron status normally improves, especially in women following menstruation.

Low food intake, persistent blood loss from ulcers or hemorrhoids, poor absorption, antacid use, or the use of certain drugs can all lead to iron deficiency.

Red meats, organ meats, clams and oysters, beans and lentils, and cooked dark leafy greens should all provide roughly 8 mg of iron per day to men and non-menstruating women.

Supplementation may be necessary if an iron deficit is discovered.

Caution: Before taking an iron supplement, do a blood test to make sure your iron levels are low. Iron consumed in excess of one’s needs is poisonous. Adults who have an iron shortage should take 10-30 mg of elemental iron 1-3 times a day, depending on the severity of the insufficiency.

Zinc

Zinc insufficiency is frequent among the elderly, and it can cause a loss of appetite and a dulled sense of taste, making eating less pleasurable. Zinc deficiency can be exacerbated by a variety of drugs.

Adults should aim for 8-11 mg of zinc per day, which can be found in oysters, mussels, pork, pumpkin seeds, and beans, peas, and lentils, among other foods.

Supplementation may be necessary if a person’s diet is restricted or if they are taking drugs that reduce zinc levels.

Tip: You don’t have to supplement each of these separately to make things easier. Instead, search for a multivitamin-mineral supplement designed exclusively for seniors that does not contain vitamin A. If swallowing is difficult or digesting is a problem, go for liquid solutions.  

Third-party rating sites such as Examine and Labdoor can assist with product selection by providing unbiased, evidence-based recommendations for the best effective supplements and brands.

Protein, Carbohydrates & Fats

As we get older, our macronutrient requirements alter, as does the way our bodies metabolize macronutrients. The appropriate macronutrient balance for a 25-year-old may differ from the ideal balance for a 75-year-old.

Protein

Protein synthesis may diminish as we age, a condition known as “anabolic resistance.” To put it another way, we require more protein to perform the same task.

Aim for at least 1.0 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day for healthy seniors. Seniors who are malnourished or unwell should strive for 1.2 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, or more if they are severely ill.

That amounts to roughly 80-100g of protein per day for a person weighing 68kg (150lbs), or about 4-5 palm-sized servings of protein each day.

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The only people who should avoid it are those who have kidney problems. To determine suitable amounts, check with a doctor, Registered Dietician, or other trained nutrition specialist.

Soft and easy-to-digest proteins, such as stewed meats or chicken, soft cooked fish, well-cooked lentils, scrambled eggs, and high-quality protein powders, are also ideal choices.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates of good quality assist meet energy needs while also adding fiber to the diet, which helps prevent constipation.

Aim for 25 grams of fiber per day from soft, easily digestible carbohydrates including well-cooked whole grains and porridges, well-cooked legumes, well-cooked root vegetables, fruits, and powdered fiber supplements.

Chart showing foods that are high in fiber

Fats

Fats play a crucial function in the control of inflammation.

Reduce or eliminate trans fats (which are commonly found in processed foods), and moderate saturated fats (such as animal fats) and omega-6 fats (which are of lower quality) (like corn or soybean oil).

Encourage the consumption of high-quality omega-6 and omega-3 fats (such as extra virgin olive oil and avocado) (from foods like sardines, mackerel, salmon, herring, anchovies, flax, chia, hemp seeds, and walnuts). Aim for three portions of fat-rich foods every day, sourced from a variety of high-quality sources.

Consume a colorful, well-balanced diet rich in whole foods. Prioritize nutrient-dense foods first, but don’t be too strict about eliminating all pleasures; enjoyment is crucial as well!

Let’s take a closer look…

Supplements with scientific backing* that can aid

On the shelves, there are a plethora of bottles and potions claiming to reverse aging, smooth wrinkles, eliminate pain, and increase lifespan.

Many of these supplements have been poorly researched and may be a waste of money at best, and potentially damaging to one’s health at worst.

Here’s a list of evidence-based vitamins that are especially beneficial in later life:

  • Multivitamin (seniors’ formula with little or no vitamin A): Improves overall health and lowers the risk of sickness and micronutrient deficiency.
  • Probiotics are beneficial to digestion and immunity.
  • Fiber helps to manage blood sugar and cholesterol levels and reduces constipation.
  • Vitamin D lowers the risk of chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis and cancer.
  • Omega 3: Helps with eye, skin, and brain health by reducing inflammation.
  • Protein & Creatine: Helps preserve lean tissue (muscle and bone mass); decreases frailty.
  • Digestive enzyme: Aids in the breakdown of food, making digestion easier and increasing nutritional absorption.
  • Glucosamine: Helps to maintain and grow healthy joint tissue, as well as reducing discomfort in osteoarthritis patients.

*Please keep in mind that supplement quality varies widely. Look for supplements that are free of artificial sweeteners, colors, flavoring, and substances you don’t recognize at stores you trust with high product turnover. Don’t be scared to seek advice from competent health store employees. Third-party rating sites such as Examine and Labdoor also offer unbiased, evidence-based recommendations for the best supplements and brands.

There are seven habits that can help you age gracefully.

Fortunately, we now have information on the particular characteristics that can help you live a longer, healthier, more happy life.

These seven lifestyle behaviors have been linked to decreased disease rates, improved mood and well-being, and greater longevity in a number of large-scale population studies.

The earlier you begin, the better, but these behaviors can benefit you regardless of your age.

Consistently practice these routines, and your aging experience will be transformed.

1. Keep pushing forward.

Exercise is one of the most beneficial things we can do for our health for very little money or time (approximately 30 minutes each day).

Our metabolism slows down as we become older, and our bodies don’t use nutrients as efficiently.

The body responds to exercise by:

  • Utilize nutrients and maintain a healthy blood sugar level;
  • construct and repair bone and muscular tissue
  • Blood, nutrients, and oxygen are circulated throughout the body, including to the brain.

Regular exercise is linked to a lower risk of:

  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are all linked to obesity.
  • Arthritis and fractures of the bones
  • Anxiety and sadness are two conditions that affect people.
  • Fatigue
  • Mortality in general

Exercise also improves one’s happiness and well-being. This is especially true if the activity is social, such as going for a stroll with a friend or doing group fitness classes.

Moving is one of the most difficult tasks for seniors.

When muscles aren’t exercised, they atrophy, making it more difficult to move around, which makes it more probable that a person would remain inactive.

Additionally, starting an exercise regimen may appear frightening and inaccessible: It may be challenging or frightening to begin an activity program owing to pain, injury, illness, or simply a history of being sedentary.

Steps to take to assist

  • Begin with easy tasks. This lowers the chances of getting hurt or having a heart attack. Instead of walking on the street, choose low-impact sports like swimming, recumbent riding, or walking on grass or dirt. Exercise can be made accessible even when mobility is limited or compromised, and it can be extremely beneficial to one’s health.
  • Find something enjoyable to do. And one that can be done on a regular basis. Gardening or yard labor, walking, swimming, climbing stairs, yoga, tai chi, cleaning the house, or light weight circuits are all examples of this.
  • Keep everything in context. It’s important to remember that “moderate to strong” is a subjective term. A 25-year-old personal trainer’s definition of “moderate to strenuous” may differ significantly from that of an 85-year-old rookie exerciser. The appropriate amount of activity should leave the exerciser out of breath but nevertheless able to converse.
  • Take it easy when it comes to exercise. Although 30 minutes of moderate to intense activity per day is optimal, benefits can be seen after just 10 minutes! A good program will include endurance training (such as quick walking), weight bearing activities (such as bicep curls with soup cans), and balance training (like practicing standing on one foot, or doing yoga).

2. Consume nutritious foods.

Our bodies are literally made out of the foods we eat. Our bodies are more prone to harm or illness if we are deficient in certain nutrients.

Although all nutrients are vital, two in particular are particularly important as we age:

  • Protein is very important since it aids in the preservation of lean tissue (muscle and bone). Frailty, falls, and fractures are all linked to a lower quality of life and an early death when lean tissue levels are higher.
  • Antioxidants are the body’s first line of defense. Daily attacks from free radicals from pollution, home chemicals, too much sun, or lifestyle behaviors like smoking, eating a lot of processed foods, or excessive drinking contribute to aging.

Antioxidants shield our bodies from free radical damage and help us age more slowly. We’re less susceptible to cataracts, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other diseases if we eat a diet rich in colored plant foods on a regular basis.

Aim for five servings of fruits and veggies every day, with a range of colors! Different hues (red, purple, green, orange, and so on) are commonly associated with different nutrient components, therefore the more vivid the “rainbow” you consume, the more nutrients you’ll obtain.

Seniors have a variety of obstacles when it comes to eating well.

Medication side effects, illness, or dietary shortages can all induce a loss of appetite, lowering meal intake and enjoyment. If a person has recurrent digestive problems, they may be hesitant to try new meals or eat anything that has previously triggered them.

It’s possible that the person has dentures or has weak teeth: It can be difficult and uncomfortable to chew if dentures are ill-fitting (this can happen after substantial weight increase or decrease) or teeth are weak.

It may be more difficult to buy for and prepare food: Having problems walking, carrying groceries, or keeping a knife steady owing to shaky hands are all common challenges.

Low energy or mood: Fatigue, anxiety, or depression might make it difficult to find inspiration to cook. Elderly people who live alone and eat alone are particularly vulnerable.

Many elderly people no longer have a source of money, which means that the highest-quality foods may be unavailable to them.

Certain generations may have strong nutritional beliefs: Some people, for example, may have a habit of avoiding fats, believing that they must “clear the plate,” or believing that dessert should be served after every meal because that is how they grew up eating.

Steps to take to assist

  • To improve nutrition, make whole food consumption a priority. Fruits and vegetables, legumes, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are examples of these foods.
  • Concentrate on foods that are soft, well-cooked, or pureed or blended. Easy-to-digest foods include scrambled eggs, poached salmon, mashed veggies, avocado, yogurt, smoothies, and soups.
  • Consider taking nutritional supplements. Increase your nutrition with protein powders, green powders, fiber powders, and fish oil.
  • Sign up for a shopping or meal delivery service if your budget allows it. This can greatly simplify food preparation.
  • When grocery shopping, choose items that are quick and simple to prepare. Pre-cooked proteins, pre-cut fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, and pre-made high-quality soups are also good choices.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Look for ways to make dining more enjoyable: Choose foods that you enjoy; set the table with lovely linens, silverware, and flowers; eat leisurely and savor your meal; and, if wanted, allow tiny snacks. A tiny bowl of hazelnut gelato after supper a couple of times a week adds a touch of decadence to life!

3. Maintain or achieve a healthy weight.

According to studies, the elderly have a BMI “sweet spot.”

Seniors with a BMI of 25 to 32 have the lowest mortality rates and recover more quickly from illness and infection.

Being overweight or underweight might put your health in jeopardy.

Excess body fat can be dangerous. Visceral fat, which surrounds our internal organs, is linked to increased inflammation, insulin resistance, high blood sugar, eye problems such as cataracts or blindness, kidney damage, and cancer.

Some fat, on the other hand, can be beneficial. A sufficient amount of body fat aids recovery from wasting disorders such as pneumonia, cancer, influenza, and digestive problems. A lower risk of fracture during a fall is also linked to having some body fat.

Finding a healthy weight is a common struggle for seniors.

Elderly people who are underweight may find it difficult to acquire weight: This could be due to a lack of appetite induced by drug side effects, digestive issues, or a zinc shortage (which reduces sense of taste and can make food taste metallic). Skipping meals and eating less healthy meals are also linked to social isolation.

Overweight people may find it difficult to reduce weight: Side effects from medications might also contribute to weight gain. Seniors may just eat like they did when they were younger, with the exception that they are exercising less and may have lost metabolically active tissue, such as muscle, to burn those calories.

Retirement and the “empty nest” situation might cause eating habits to shift: With more free time and less regularity, eating at restaurants may become more frequent, generally accompanied by more alcoholic beverages.

Steps to take to assist

If you need to acquire weight, do the following:

  • Make sure your protein needs are satisfied first. In terms of keeping healthy and resilient as a senior, this macronutrient provides the best “return on investment.”
  • Calorically dense healthy fats can quickly increase calorie consumption. Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nut butters, and full-fat dairy products such as plain whole milk yogurt or aged hard cheeses are all good choices.

If you need to lose weight, follow these steps:

  • Make whole foods a priority. Fresh veggies, lean meats, and adequate amounts of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates are among them.

In every case:

  • Avoid following “diet guidelines” or forcing yourself to eat particular things. Take kale off the table if you don’t like it. Enjoy the double chocolate chunk if you crave a cookie every now and then!

4. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

It’s natural to require less sleep as we become older, and to sleep less consistently. As a result, elderly adults may find it difficult to fall or stay asleep, and/or they may wake up early.

A good night’s sleep is important at any age, as it aids in the following:

  • Memory and attention are improved as a result of brain regeneration.
  • hormone and neurotransmitter balance, which keeps mood and hunger in check;
  • inflammatory control, ensuring a healthy and balanced immune system; and
  • Recovery from stress, whether it’s caused by emotional or physical factors.

In the later years of life, receiving 5 to 9 hours of sleep per day may be sufficient.

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Sleeping enough is beneficial to our health, but sleeping too much can indicate disease.

Consult a doctor if you’re sleeping more than 9 or 10 hours every night. Excessive sleeping might indicate vitamin insufficiency (low iron and B12 levels can both produce weariness), depression, infection, or serious disease.

Seniors have a variety of issues when it comes to getting enough sleep.

People are thrown off when their sleep patterns change: Although it’s natural to require less sleep as we age, adjusting to a new sleep routine can be tough.

Medication side effects can disrupt natural cycles. For example, some drugs can produce weariness or drowsiness.

Worries about our health, finances, or loved ones can also keep us up. If you’re having trouble sleeping, get a thorough assessment of what’s keeping you awake, including what’s weighing on your heart and mind.

Steps to take to assist

  • Maintain decent sleeping habits. It’s not just at night that you can set yourself up for a good night’s sleep. About an hour before bedtime, dim the lights and avoid engaging in stimulating activities. Make your bedroom as dark as possible and keep it chilly (about 67 degrees Fahrenheit / 19 degrees Celsius).
  • Maintain a consistent sleep routine. Every day, try to go to bed and wake up at the same time. Avoid naps that last more than an hour or that occur later in the day.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine. Take a bath, read some soothing literature, or take a leisurely stroll outside.
  • Spending time in bed while awake is not a good idea. If you can’t fall asleep in 15 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing like reading or preparing a cup of tea; come back to bed when you’re ready.

For more information on how to achieve a good night’s sleep, see this article.

5. Cut down or stop smoking.

It may come as a surprise to some, but many seniors grew up when smoking was touted as a good habit!

Smoking, on the other hand, is now definitely related to bad health outcomes, especially respiratory disorders such as asthma, emphysema, and lung cancer, as well as cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.

Smoking greatly increases our exposure to free radicals, which cause inflammation, artery damage, and physiological aging.

Here’s the good news:

It’s never too late to quit, and the body regenerates quickly once you do.

Seniors confront a variety of obstacles when it comes to quitting smoking.

Cigarettes are highly addicting, and quitting is difficult: If a person has smoked for decades, it may be difficult for them to envisage their life without it.

What is the point of quitting now, older individuals may wonder? This is why it’s critical to realize that quitting smoking can have instant health benefits, regardless of age.

Steps to take to assist

  • Take it easy. Smoking is frequently used as a stress reliever. As a result, rather than immediately stopping this habit, you could have a higher chance of gradually replacing it with more constructive coping techniques. Incorporate supportive stress management activities such as massage, spending time with friends, or participating in a creative pastime into your daily routine, and use these to gradually reduce your cigarette consumption.
  • Avoid humiliating others. Don’t use humiliation or judgment to assist a client quit, whether you’re attempting to quit yourself or helping a client quit. It is general knowledge that smoking is harmful to one’s health; a smoker requires hope, not a lecture. At any age, the body can renew! That is why quitting has worth, and the advantages can be tied to meaningful objectives. For instance, being able to take a long, strenuous walk with a cherished pet while breathing freely and clearly.
  • Seek assistance. Individuals who are trying to quit smoking may find it helpful to join support groups, seek therapy, or try other medical therapies under the supervision of their doctor.

6. Drink in moderation or not at all.

Wait a minute, isn’t red wine meant to help you live longer?

Alcohol consumption — even moderate use — has been the subject of conflicting research. Most experts advise against starting to drink if you haven’t already.

Excessive alcohol intake has been linked to a variety of health issues, including:

  • Arrhythmias, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke are all conditions that affect the heart.
  • Sleep disturbances, depression, neurological damage, epilepsy, dementia, and alcoholism are among symptoms of the brain (particularly if it runs in the family)
  • Increased inflammation / flare-ups of autoimmune disorders; cancer (mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast); cancer (mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast); cancer (mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast); cancer (mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast); cancer (mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast); cancer (mouth,
  • Fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis/cirrhosis, liver cancer, and kidney disease are all conditions that affect the liver and kidneys.
  • Osteoporosis and bone fractures; anemia; pancreatitis; alterations in lipid metabolism; muscular damage; drug interactions

Because the body cannot hold alcohol, it must be eliminated first. As the liver metabolizes the scotch on the rocks, it may overlook or postpone other processes, such as digesting, absorbing, and storing other nutrients such as proteins, lipids, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.

We want to avoid overburdening the liver so that it can focus on the other critical tasks at hand.

Moderation of alcohol is a common difficulty for seniors.

Not understanding what moderate drinking entails: Many people may be classified as “strong drinkers” without even recognizing it.

“Moderate drinking,” according to the United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, entails:

  • Women: Up to seven drinks per week, with a maximum of three drinks per day.
  • Men: Up to 14 drinks per week, with a maximum of four drinks per day.

Here’s a guide to help you understand what a “drink” is:

What counts as an alcoholic drink - beer, wine, fortified wine and liquor compared

Higher leisure time may lead to increased alcohol consumption: Going out to eat more often could mean enjoying a great Chardonnay more frequently — or even the occasional 9-hole beer party at the golf club!

People may use alcohol as a coping method to alleviate chronic pain, loneliness, or anxiety.

Steps to take to assist

  • Alcoholic beverages should be avoided. Instead, drink water, sparkling water, or vegetable juices.
  • Experiment with several types of stress-relieving activities. If you’re having more than 1 to 2 drinks every night and can’t seem to quit, think about how you deal with stress in your life. Instead of passing judgment or lecturing on this habit, approach it with curiosity and compassion. Consider substituting spending time in nature, gathering with family, or playing with a pet for drinking.
  • It’s not a good idea to go it alone. People who are trying to quit or reduce their alcohol intake may find it helpful to join support groups, seek more counseling, or try various medical procedures under the supervision of their physician, just as they did with smoking.

7. Make friends with others.

Good marriages, tight family relationships, deep friendships, and vibrant work interactions are among the most meaningful aspects of people’s life, according to surveys.

It’s often the presence of other people, with whom we may love and be loved, that gives us a cause to live.

Physical and psychological issues are more common in elderly people who live alone. Living alone might mean having no one to aid you if you fall, no one to talk to about your joys and disappointments, and no one to assist you in the kitchen. As a result, elderly people who live alone are more likely to suffer from injuries, loneliness, and malnutrition.

All of these variables shorten people’s lives and, more crucially, lower their quality of life.

Human relationship that is meaningful:

  • provides a sense of direction;
  • reduces one’s subjective age
  • enhances mental well-being; and
  • makes life more enjoyable and enjoyable

Make regular contact with family, friends, and community members a priority.

Social isolation is a common problem for elderly.

Individuals are more likely to face loss as they get older: When you lose friends, family members, cherished pets, or a spouse, you lose a chance to connect (which is especially correlated with a sharp increase in mortality).

It can be isolating to live in a long-term care facility: If social ties aren’t maintained and enabled, this might be very tough.

Eating alone is a red flag: when people eat alone, their meals are more repetitious, basic, and nutritionally deficient.

Steps to take to assist

  • Maintain as much independence as possible while remaining highly connected. This allows for both liberty and support, resulting in a life full of meaning, richness, and joy in older years. Quality social ties are accessible and can be created even if a person has lost a loved one (or many).
  • Make social activities a priority. Family potlucks, group exercise classes, bird-watching get-togethers, live theatrical field excursions with pals, or taking a course in a creative or intellectual effort with other like-minded peers are all possibilities.
  • Generations should be mixed. Younger generations can offer vigor and newness to an elderly person’s life, and an elderly person can provide knowledge and perspective to a younger person’s life, despite the fact that the elderly like spending time with people of their own generation.

Consider your life and then take action.

My two sets of grandparents were diametrically opposed.

One group had bad lifestyle habits, suffered from chronic disease, and died in a nursing home in their early seventies.

The other group stayed active, maintained a vegetable garden that provided them with many meals, and lived in a small community where they could help and be helped by neighbors and friends. Until their mid-nineties, this family lived happily and independently on their farm.

When I consider my two sets of grandparents, I am struck by the breadth of possibilities that my genetics provide. Mostly, I’ve noticed how strongly lifestyle behaviors may influence one’s quality of life.

There are many things over which we have no control. We do, however, have control over a number of behaviours that have a significant impact on our health and how we age.

I don’t strive for perfection, and I don’t think anyone else should either. However, I believe in being proactive.

If you’re getting older — because, ahem, we’re all getting older — think about your family history and your current practices. Consult the following list and concentrate on one thing to help you live longer. Make one habit a habit, and then add others when and if you’re ready. Every constructive activity counts, and there is no such thing as a modest healthy stride forward.

If you’re a health care provider, encourage your older clients or patients to change their habits. Recognize their real-life constraints, but more importantly, emphasize their assets. The elderly have abilities as well – after all, they’ve made it this far!

And for everyone else: today is yours. What are some things you can do to make the most of it?

What to Do Next: Some Suggestions from the Experts

If you’re a senior citizen:

1. Make your life easier.

The older years are an excellent time to clarify what matters most.

It’s perfectly acceptable to let go of things, tasks, and even relationships that no longer provide you joy and meaning.

Hire help if you can afford it! Hire a personal trainer to assist you in moving safely and regularly, a meal delivery service to ensure your nutritional needs are satisfied, or a local kid to assist you with minor house repairs and duties you no longer wish to perform.

This frees up more time for you to do the things you enjoy, hopefully with the people you truly appreciate spending time with.

2. Become a member of a group.

Good connections and social interactions provide us with a sense of purpose, joy, and connection. Better physiological health is also linked to social connections.

Find like-minded people to socialize with on a daily basis, whether it’s classmates from a class, family, or just your neighbors down the street or down the hall.

Also, don’t be scared to reach out to the younger generation! You might be eligible to serve as a grandparent even if you aren’t a biological grandparent!

3. Be open to change.

Change is unavoidable.

Instead of fighting it, learn to accept it. With compassion, openness, and resilience, support whatever changes occur.

During times of great transition, many people find that adopting a spiritual practice is nourishing.

This practice can be anything that helps you feel good and provides you calm, such as a daily stroll in the woods, regular time with a loved one to talk about your hopes and anxieties, or a mindfulness practice like meditation or deep breathing.

4. Emphasize happiness and significance.

Do things you enjoy!

Look for ways to bring joy into your daily routine.

Choose foods that you enjoy and can enjoy for a long time. Get a massage or treat yourself to a spa treatment. Read novels that pique your interest and bring delight to your heart. Try something you’ve never done before but have always wanted to. Take notice of the beauty all around you, whether it’s the sunshine on a child’s face or the vibrant hues in your flower garden.

5. Return the favor

Giving to others is one of the best ways to feel good.

You have a lifetime of experience and wisdom that you may share with others as an older person.

Donate to a good cause, volunteer, or share what you’ve learnt with others. This may be tutoring adults in math at a community center or teaching a younger family member how to create the family’s famous pierogi recipe.

Consider the legacy you want to leave behind and give freely.

If you work with the elderly, keep the following in mind:

1. Evaluate your clients’ health, needs, wants, and situation thoroughly.

Consider your client or patient as a whole and in context.

Find out what they eat and how they eat it, what they do for exercise (if any), their living environment, the kind of support they have, their mood and motivation, and what they do for pleasure.

If you don’t have access to a lab, work with a person’s family doctor to arrange for blood tests to check that there are no evident nutritional deficiencies or abnormal blood indicators.

Prescriptions that are “one-size-fits-all” should be avoided. There is no such thing as a “healthy senior protocol.” Every elderly person is unique, just as they are in previous periods of life.

2. Concentrate on the good aspects of the situation and what can be done.

Working with the elderly may entail overcoming several obstacles.

These constraints should be respected, but they should not be the focus.

Instead, concentrate on what a person is willing, capable, and ready to do. Add small behaviors that create quick “wins” for your client, which can help them regain confidence and optimism.

To increase a sense of autonomy and improve quality of life, focus on completing the fundamentals regularly and well.

The following are examples of high-impact, yet basic habits:

  • Including protein in every meal and drinking plenty of water
  • Increasing the amount of colorful fruits and vegetables consumed; and
  • Increasing your daily movement by 10-30 minutes.

3. Show respect and dignity to the elderly.

Assume they are the expert, as do all clients.

They’ve probably been on the planet for a lot longer than you have, and they’ve come a long way on their own.

So don’t try to control them.

You are there to provide knowledge and help as a health professional. Provide direction, but also options. Make it plain to your client that he or she has the reins.

4. Be aware of your professional boundaries.

If your client or patient is dealing with challenges you aren’t equipped to handle, collaborate with other health care specialists.

Connect with a person’s family doctor or other health professionals on their team when appropriate and with their consent.

You may all work together to best serve someone in their quest to live a long, meaningful, and healthy life.

References

To see the information sources mentioned in this article, go here.

Honeycutt, P.H., & Ramsey, P. (2002). Factors contributing to falls in elderly men living in the community. Geriatric Nursing, 23(5), 250-257.

Koski, K., Luukinen, H., Laippala, P., & Kivela, S.L. (1996). Physiological Factors and Medications as

A Prospective Population-based Study of Predictors of Injurious Falls in the Elderly. Age and Ageing, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 29-38.

Koski, K., Luukinen, H., Laippala, P., & Kivelä, S.L. (1998). Risk Factors for Major Injurious Falls among the Home-Dwelling Elderly by Functional Abilities: A Prospective Population-Based Study. Gerontology, 44(4), 232–238.

Madureira, M.M., Takayama, L., Gallinaro, A.L., Caparbo, V.F., Costa, R.A., & Pereira, R.M.R. (2007) Balance training program is highly effective in improving functional status and reducing the risk of falls in elderly women with osteoporosis: a randomized controlled trial. Osteoporosis International, 18(4), 419–425.

Roche, J.J.W., Wenn, R.T., Sahota, O., & Moran, C.G. (2005) Effect of comorbidities and postoperative complications on mortality after hip fracture in elderly people: prospective observational cohort study, BMJ, 331(7529),1374.

Stalenhoef, P.A., Diederiks, J.P.M., Knottnerus, J.A., Kester, A.D.M., & Crebolder, H.F.J.M. (2002). A risk model for the prediction of recurrent falls in community-dwelling elderly: A prospective cohort study. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 55(11), 1088-1094.

D.R. Thomas, D.R. Thomas, D.R. Thomas, D (2006). Vitamins and Aging, as well as their Effects on Health and Longevity 81–91 in Clin Interv Aging.

Vivekananthan, D.P., Penn, M.S., Sapp, S.K., Hsu, A., & Topol, E.J. (2003). Use of antioxidant vitamins for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: meta-analysis of randomised trials. The Lancet, 361(9374), 2017-2023.

Antioxidants, Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, & Cardiovascular Disease. (2017, March). Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/16740-antioxidants-vitamin-e-beta-carotene–cardiovascular-disease

Arthritis. (August 2018). Arthritis (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthritis) was retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthritis.

Cataract. (August 2018). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cataract retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cataract

Elderly people are prone to dehydration (n.d.). cf chl jschl tk =cc3601cbb0b5b67c4d8ed42b60df043f77be2905-1577119476-0-AUew6zMKPBW0DfpSCFRhlct4DCBq RuyF0pfMLGdZj5mnTa6Qo6QDaISVdKrJQO5Mpls

Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium have been updated. (March 2012). https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/vitamins-minerals/vitamin-calcium-updated-dietary-reference-intakes-nutrition/vitamin-calcium-updated-dietary-reference-intakes-nutrition.html

[DocMikeEvans] [DocMikeEvans] [DocMikeEvan (2011, December 2). 23 and a half hours What is the most important thing we can do to improve our health? [Audio file] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo

If you’re a coach or wish to be one…

It’s both an art and a science to coach clients, patients, friends, or family members through healthy food and lifestyle adjustments in a way that’s tailored to their individual body, tastes, and circumstances.

Consider the Level 1 Certification if you want to learn more about both.

It is one of the biggest challenges for adults as they age to maintain their health and wellness. While there are many factors to consider, it is the nutrition that plays a pivotal role in preventing and fighting age-related diseases and improving quality of life.. Read more about precision nutrition meal plan and let us know what you think.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best nutrition for seniors?

The best nutrition for seniors is a balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats.

How can elderly improve nutrition?

The elderly should eat more protein and vegetables. They should also avoid processed foods, sugar, and alcohol.

What are some nutrition survival strategies that can help single people especially in older age eat right?

There are a few things you can do to make sure that your diet is balanced and healthy. First, try to eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins like fish or chicken. Second, drink lots of water throughout the day. Third, limit your intake of processed foods as much as possible. Finally, get enough sleep every night.

Related Tags

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • proper food intake that will fit your age level
  • what age should you start watching what you eat
  • how to eat for your age
  • diet according to age
  • precision nutrition meal plan

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