Column: Good Nutrition Essential for Seniors

By KEN HENDRICKS
Home Instead Senior Care

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of columns by members of Los Alamos Community Health Council, seeking to educate the community about existing resources, issues, and emerging health concerns.

Healthy eating is essential for people of all ages, but for many seniors, a well-balanced diet is the key to feeling their best. In fact, nutrition experts consider good nutrition to be the first line of defense in the fight to stay healthy.

According to research conducted for the local caregiving company Home Instead Senior Care, 62 percent of adult children caring for an older adult (average age 81) reported three or more nutritional risks in their senior such as:

  • Three or more prescribed or over-the-counter drugs per day
  • An illness or condition that made the senior change his or her diet
  • Having lost or gained more than 10 pounds in the past six months without trying.

“We see seniors all the time whose health is being impacted by such issues as multiple medications and illnesses,” Chico Marquez, owner of Home Instead Senior Care and member of the Los Alamos Community Health Council said.  “That makes nutritious and delicious meals an important tool in keeping seniors well-armed to stand firm against the ravages of aging. It’s really the first line of defense.”

Learning to identify the warning signs such as a general loss of appetite, sudden weight fluctuation or cognitive problems is imperative. It’s also important that we become more shopping savvy, being aware of the food staples that the seniors we love should not live without. Foods such as oatmeal, fish, sweet potatoes and squash are all rich in the essential nutrients that seniors need.

The importance of nutrition to healthy aging is why Home Instead Senior Care has launched the Cooking Under Pressure nutrition campaign to provide education and support to seniors and their family members who are sometimes stressed-out by the demands of caregiving. 

Partnering with nutrition experts at the University of Maryland and Duke University Medical Center, the company has developed a handbook of nutrition tips as well as healthy recipes for seniors. 

The handbook is available for free throughthe local Home Instead Senior Care office, the Betty Ehart Senior Center or the White Rock Senior Center. 

Additionally, the website www.foodsforseniors.com provides more information, research and resources. It’s so important that we do all that we can to help the seniors we love make health conscious decisions.                                            

Recognizing risk factors and improving the health and well-being of older adults and families is one of the priorities of the Los Alamos Community Health Council (LACHC.) The LACHC is the designated health planning body for Los Alamos County. The LACHC works collaboratively with service providers, non-profit organizations, community members, and Los Alamos County staff. More information about the LACHC and its work can be found on its web page, www.lachc.net. The LACHC meets noon-1:30 p.m. the first Thursday of each month in the Los Alamos Municipal Building, room 330.

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