Post by Ruth Joanna
You are what you eat. And as a senior, what you eat can seriously affect your quality of living. Unfortunately, data from the American Geriatric Society indicates that up to 92% of seniors are becoming frail due to a lackluster diet. Currently, senior malnourishment and obesity are also becoming more common, leading to health complications, such as heart disease and diabetes. Both conditions are among the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) list of most common chronic illnesses in seniors.
For many seniors, there are plenty of reasons why eating well may be difficult. These include lack of access to healthy food options, budget constraints, dependence on carers, or misinformation. Thankfully, the ideal senior diet is straightforward, and some simple reminders can make eating a lot more enjoyable and nourishing.
Dietary Considerations for Seniors
In your senior years, it may take longer for the body to signal when it’s dehydrated. Sometimes, seniors with cognitive issues may also forget to drink water. A UCLA study even determined that 40% of senior citizens are chronically under- or dehydrated. Lacking hydration can cause problems like UTIs, dizziness, and kidney stones, to name a few. On the flipside, our article on the ‘Benefits of Optimal Water Intake’ found that drinking optimal amounts of water daily can lubricate joints, enhance skin health, and improve bodily processes. To remind yourself to drink water, keep a refillable bottle with you at all times, and make sure to take a few sips whenever you can. If your urine is too yellow, take this as another reminder to drink a glass or two. Remember, when you wait to feel thirsty before you drink, you’re already dehydrated.
Meals rich in omega-3 and calcium
Some common chronic conditions that can complicate the lives of seniors are Macular Degeneration (AMD), arthritis, and osteoporosis. Unfortunately, these issues are likely to crop up as one ages because the body’s regenerative qualities slow down. To combat this, make sure to satisfy your body’s omega-3 and calcium demands with a well-rounded diet. Tasty dietary additions rich in these minerals are fatty fish (like tuna and salmon), nuts, beans, fortified milk (or fortified orange juice), and leafy greens.
Senior Wellness Resources That Can Help
Of course, if you’re still in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to get professional help. Nationwide, there are many initiatives specifically designed to help improve seniors' diets. Moreover, government-funded programs, such as health insurance plans, are available to eligible citizens.
A licensed dietician and/or nutritionist
If you have any existing health concerns, you may feel more reassured following a customized diet and exercise plan crafted by a dietician or nutritionist. These licensed professionals take your medical history and lifestyle into consideration and use that information to create a wellness plan that suits you.
Luckily, there are many ways to get in touch with such experts. If you have an Original Medicare Plan, this will be covered by your policy only if your primary doctor deems a dietician or nutritionist's expertise necessary. On the other hand, if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan you will need to check with your provider. According to Kelsey Care Advantage, Medicare Advantage includes the benefits of Original Medicare Part B (outpatient care) at no added premium. This means that you may qualify for nutritional counseling and medical nutrition therapy.
Medicare Advantage plans also cover certain health club memberships, should added exercise be recommended. Remember, though, that Medicare Advantage plans vary per area. For instance, in New York, City retirees will enjoy the custom NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Program starting next year. This will include all traditional Medicare coverage plus new benefits like home meal delivery and fitness programs.
Senior nutrition programs
To remedy the food insecurity and poor diet of American seniors, the United States Department of Agriculture also offers special programs nationwide. For example, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) helps low-income seniors access fresh produce. In addition, Meals on Wheels delivers fresh meals straight to elderly homes. Every state has different programs, so don’t hesitate to contact your local officials to find what your area provides.
Following a proper diet can be challenging at any age, so don’t think it’s impossible just because you’re in your golden years. With a little research, some determination, and possibly some professional aid, you can enjoy all the wonderful perks that a healthy diet can impart.
For more on living well at any age, check out our other posts at BIN Science
Specially written for Roex By BINscience.com
By: Ruth Joanna
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