We all want to stay healthy as we age, but there’s no denying that staying healthy gets increasingly difficult the older we get. Older Americans are more likely to get sick and injured than their younger counterparts and a big part of that has to do with their diet. Even people who made an effort to eat healthy all their lives might still suffer increased health risks as they age and their nutritional needs change. Let’s take a look at some of the most common health problems faced by older Americans and how nutrition might play a role.
Atrophic gastritis is a condition faced by approximately 20% of older Americans. It’s characterized by a reduced level of stomach acid as a result of chronic inflammation in the cells that produce stomach acid.
Reduced stomach acid can lead to a reduced ability to absorb nutrients, specifically vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
Atrophic gastritis can be treated with medication, but for anyone not yet diagnosed with atrophic gastritis (or any other inflammatory disease) who thinks they might be at risk, it’s a good idea to try to stick to a diet that’s low in inflammatory ingredients, specifically alcohol, sugar, refined grains, and dairy.
Calories vs. Nutrients
Another challenge of aging is that, as we age, we need fewer calories to survive, making it more difficult to get all the nutrients we need.
The solution to this problem is to eat a variety of nutrient dense, whole foods and take supplements as needed to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. Remember to consult with your doctor or dietician before making any changes to your diet, medication, or adding any new supplements to your regimen.
In addition to losing bone mass, many people also tend to lose muscle mass as they age, which is one reason they tend to need fewer calories to get through the day than they needed when they were younger, had more muscle mass, and were more active.
Reduced muscle mass is a contributing factor to weakness in older Americans, which, in turn, is more likely to lead to fractures and other injuries.
The solution is to eat more protein, combined with strength-training exercises to help prevent the loss of strength and muscle mass.
Calcium and Vitamin D
You probably already know that bone loss, also known as osteoporosis, is a common problem among older Americans (especially women) and is a leading cause of fractures and broken bones. You might know that calcium is an important ingredient in building strong bones, but did you know that Vitamin D is just as important? Vitamin D is needed to carry calcium from the blood stream to the bones, so a full dose of calcium won’t do any good without the requisite amount of Vitamin D.
At Stillwater Senior Living, we make sure every resident has access to healthy, nutritious foods. We have a weekly menu, but adjustments can always be made for residents with specific dietary needs. Reach out now if you have any questions about our menu or any other aspect of our assisted living community.
Arthritis is a common problem for almost all seniors, so it’s no wonder the pharmaceutical industry has plenty of drugs to offer that can help reduce the pain of arthritis.
But not everyone wants to resort to taking a pill every day (or multiple times a day) just so they can move without pain. For those who prefer to take the more natural route to feeling great whenever possible, here are five options for easing arthritis pain naturally.
Movement is often key to preventing and managing arthritis, although it seems like a catch-22 that movement can help manage arthritis when arthritis makes it difficult and painful to move.
But yoga has many moves and exercises that specifically target the joints to improve flexibility and joint health. One study found that yoga significantly helped manage osteoarthritis in elderly women. It may take some practice and you’ll have to do it regularly, but yoga is probably one of the most powerful ways to help handle arthritis pain.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
A diet that’s high vegetables and low in sugar and grains is beneficial for all kinds of health problems, including arthritis. Not only is it the best way to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need to keep your body strong and fight off disease, it’s also an effective way to keep inflammation low, which is key to managing arthritis.
Ginger and Turmeric
Speaking of keeping inflammation low, ginger and turmeric are both powerhouses when it comes to reducing inflammation. You can try incorporating these into your diet in your cooking and/or by drinking tea infused with one or both of these potent spices. If you can’t stand the taste, both can be bought in capsules in most supermarkets and taken as a supplement with one of your meals.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Eating right is also key to keeping our bodies at a healthy weight, which is great because being overweight is also linked to a host of health problems, especially as we get older. With approximately one third of all American senior citizens qualifying as obese, that extra weight can put a lot of stress on aging feet, ankles, knees, and hips – weight that those older body parts were never really equipped to handle, especially for long periods of time. If you’ve been gaining weight and have noticed pain and/or stiffness in one or more of those areas, the first thing you might want to try is cutting calories, eating more salads, and getting more exercise into your daily routine.
It’s not for everybody, but if you’re not one of those who gets squeamish around needles, you might want to consider acupuncture. Multiple studies have shown that, in the hands of a professional acupuncturist, many patients with osteoarthritis do tend to report relief from their arthritis pain after getting acupuncture.
None of these measures are foolproof, but it’s always a good idea to try different methods and see what works for you. In some cases you might find you need the right combination of measures to effectively handle your arthritis pain the natural way.
Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we treat our residents like family. Our apartments include studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom suites. They are designed with security features, maximum accessibility, and include walk-out patois with a full range of amenities for the entire family.
CONTACT US today for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.
As seniors age, eating well can improve mental acuteness, energy levels, and resistance to illness. A healthy diet can also be the key to a positive outlook on life and staying physically and emotionally fit. Healthy eating does not have to be about sacrificing the foods you love and dieting. No matter your age, eating well should be about tasty, fresh food, and eating with family and friends.
Feed Your Mind and Body
Your age doesn’t matter and neither do your prior eating habits. It’s never too late to change your diet and improve your health. Improving your diet now can help you live longer and stronger, sharpen your mind, and feel better all around. Good nutrition boosts immunity and fights illnesses and toxins. It also keeps your weight in check. It will help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, bone loss, and cancer.
People who eat fruit, leafy green vegetable, fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids can improve focus, and decrease their risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidant-rich green tea may help enhance memory and mental alertness as you age. Wholesome meals give you energy and help you look and feel better. When your body feels good you feel happier inside and out.
Create a Healthy Diet
The key to a healthy diet is to focus on the food your body needs as you age. Food that is closest to its natural form is best. Our bodies respond differently to different foods. It depends on our genetics and other health factors, so finding a diet that works may take a little experimenting.
Fruit—Instead of the usual apple or banana got for different things like berries or melons. Try for 2-3 servings per day.
Veggies–Choose dark, leafy greens rich in antioxidants like kale, spinach and broccoli. Also, include other colorful veggies like carrots and squash. Try for 2-3 cups each day.
Calcium—Maintaining good bone health as you age is very important. Bone health depends on an adequate calcium intake to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Older adults need 1,200mg of calcium per day through servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese. Non-dairy sources of calcium include tofu, broccoli, almonds, and kale.
Grains—Be smart and choose whole grains over processed white flour for more nutrients and fiber.
Healthy fats—Fat is very dense in calories, so a little can go a long way in making you full and keeping you full longer. Check out The Fat Debate for more on saturated fats and how they can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Protein—Adults over 50 without kidney disease or diabetes need about 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram (2.2lbs) of bodyweight each day.
Vitamins and Minerals
Water—As you get older, you are prone to dehydration because your sense of thirst may not be as sharp as it once was. Sip water regularly to avoid UTI’s, constipation, and confusion.
Vitamin B—After age 50, your stomach produces less gastric acid, making it difficult to absorb vitamin B12. You need vitamin B12 to keep blood and nerves healthy. Get the recommended daily intake of 2.4mcg from food or a vitamin supplement.
Vitamin D—As you age, your skin is less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D. Consult your doctor about supplementing your diet.
Cut Down on Sugar
While our senses of taste and smell diminish with age, we can still distinguish sweets the longest, making many older people consume more sugar and refined carbs, which isn’t healthy. Unlike complex carbs that are fiber-rich, refined carbs like refined sugar, can lead to a big spike in blood sugar, followed by a rapid crash that can leave you feeling hungry and prone to overeating.
Reducing the amount of starches, candy, and desserts in your diet is only part of the answer. Sugar is hidden in foods like canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, and frozen dinners. All this hidden sugar doesn’t contribute any nutrients. All it can do is wreck a healthy diet.
Many seniors need help maintaining a proper diet. There are programs out there like Meals on Wheels that will deliver nutritious, balanced meals to seniors at home.
Here at Stillwater Senior Living, we provide dining options for our seniors who can’t or don’t want to cook for themselves. We do our best to help our residents maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet.
CONTACT US TODAY for more information and a tour of our beautiful state-of-the-art community.