Good nutrition means good life for seniors.

Good nutrition is a pillar to seniors’ health, quality of life

As people grow older, good nutrition is critical for quality of life and prevention of the downward spiral of decline in health.

As people grow older, good nutrition is critical for quality of life and prevention of the downward spiral of decline in health.

In Canada, it is estimated that more than half of people hospitalized who are over the age of 65 are considered clinically malnourished.

Chronic disease, taking multiple medications, having dental or mouth problems, eating alone, lacking resources for access to healthy foods, and having dietary restrictions can all contribute to a person’s nutritional status that is lacking for optimum health and well being.

A weakened immune system, which leads to increased risk of infections, poor wound healing and muscle weakness that results in falls and fractures can be some results of poor nutrition.

In addition, poor eating habits can lead to further disinterest in meals and lack of appetite. This lack of interest only makes the problem worse.

What is malnutrition?

It may seem straightforward, but there’s more to malnutrition than simply not having access to food and a diet lacking in nutrients. In reality, it is more complicated than that. It can have complex causes as a result of a combination of physical, social and psychological issues.

Here are 10 key questions about food and nutrition to consider asking yourself if you are over 65 years old, or if you have a friend/family member who is elderly. Answering yes to any one of these critical questions indicates an increased risk of poor nutrition.

I have:

1) An illness that affects what I can eat.

2) Fewer than two meals a day.

3) Few fruits, vegetables or milk products.

4) Three or more drinks of wine, beer, or liquor daily.

5) Tooth or mouth problems.

6) Not enough money to buy the food I need.

7) Eaten alone most of the time.

8) Three or more different over-the-counter medications daily.

9) Lost or gained 10 pounds in last six months without wanting to.

10) Difficulties in shopping, cooking and/or feeding myself.

This nutritional health checklist is a screening tool for the elderly and offers important information that affects general health and well being.

How can a loved one assist an elderly person whose health is declining? Ideas such as visiting at mealtimes—not just special occasions, but regular mealtimes— at different times of day can help identify potential eating issues. Are clothes fitting differently and/or has weight changed unintentionally recently?

Does the medicine cabinet look crowded and have many over-the-counter, plus prescription medications that may be affecting health (and nutrient absorption) in a negative way?

Are there problems with cuts or wounds that don’t heal, or bruising too easily?

What about dentition and ability to chew and swallow foods adequately for good digestion and absorption? Bowel regularity affects overall nutritional status too. Is chronic constipation or diarrhea something that is a daily problem? Any of the above concerns may be a reason to seek more assistance through local physicians and/or health services.

There are many community resources available in Port Alberni that can be tapped into for help in guiding a strategy to improve an elderly person’s quality of life.

With the aging population and growing problems of complex health issues, identifying seniors at risk is important to provide the care and service they require for better health.

Next month: more information and practical tips for seniors looking to better their health.

 

Sandra Gentleman, RD, is a local Registered Dietitian and steward of Canal Beach.

Just Posted

Alberni Valley Kennel Club brings back Canine Classic dog show

55th annual Dog Show weekend takes place Oct. 18-20

Take a chance on the Portal Players in Mamma Mia!

Hit musical headed to Port Alberni on Oct. 17

Culturally safe space opens at West Coast General Hospital

New amenity welcomes Indigenous cultural approach to healing

Well-known Port Alberni politician, philanthropist Gillian Trumper has died

Community remembers Trumper as generous to her community, and a groundbreaking politician

Port Alberni cancer patients get new ride to appointments

Qualicum Beach woman donates van to Freemasons’ transportation program

VIDEO: #MeToo leader launches new hashtag to mobilize U.S. voters

Tarana Burke hopes to prompt moderators to ask about sexual violence at next debate

Potent power play paces Canucks to 5-1 win over Detroit

Miller nets a pair as Vancouver wins third straight

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Most Read