I decided to write my paper on elderly nutrition. I have chosen this topic because I believe nutrition is important at all ages now, especially in those of the elderly. Fattening foods are around more now than ever, so the problem of obesity is getting out of control. Obesity as we all know causes heart attacks and other such medical problems. People are not noticing the problem anymore until the worst happens. “Everyone thinks that heart disease always happens to someone else, until it happens to them,” says Christopher Cates, M. D. , director of a Heart Center in Atlanta.
Sixty-two-year-old Jack Andre says having a heart attack in March 2003 was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat. “It brought a lot of things to my attention that I never thought about before,” he says. He was overweight, didn’t exercise, and often ate high-fat foods. But he never connected his lifestyle to his heart. Statistics show that every year more than 1 million people have heart attacks, about 13 million Americans have coronary heart disease, and about half a million people die from it each year.
The one dying are the elderly whose bodies arenot as strong as those who are younger. Heart disease is mostly known as a “man’s disease” these days. Patrice Nickens, M. d. , leader in a cardiovascular medicine department says, “We want women to know that heart disease is not a man’s disease. Rather, heart disease is the leasing cause of death for women, and heart disease is preventable and treatable. ” I am throwing in these statistics because nutrition is the cause of these diseases and once it again it is important to take care of ourselves and more importantly the elderly. The Department of Health and Human
Services offers some suggestion for the elderly as far as what they can eat. Many times they have trouble chewing foods like meat, fresh fruits and vegetables. So the department suggests that the elderly try fruit juices, vegetable juices, ground meat, eggs, and cooked cereals instead. Another issue for the elderly a lot of times is having stomach problems, like too much gas, this causes them to stay away from foods they think causes the problem. This means that they are missing out on important nutrients, like vitamins and calcium. I often has residents complaining of this problem when I worked at a nursing home.
So, I found some foods to try instead are; creamed soups, pudding, yogurt and cheeses instead of milk. Then once again vegetable and fruits juices instead of raw or cooked vegetables, etc. Another problem that stops the elderly from eating right is the fact that they can not always go out and shop like the could have at a younger age. Some ways I found to help those in need out are by; Asking a church for volunteer help, asking a family member or neighbor to shop for you, hire home health workers, or there are services such as Meals on Wheels that can provide such help.
I looked up some information on Meals on Wheels because I was interested in seeing the eligibility’s and services available. While there is no means test for participation in the Elderly Nutrition Program, services are targeted to elderly people (i. e. , people age 60 or older) with the greatest economic or social need, with special attention given to low-income minorities. As far as cost goes, generally, there is no mandatory cost for meals delivered. The meals are provided on a suggested contribution basis, which means that no one is denied service because of inability to pay.
The main reason for researching this program is because I wanted to see whether the food is nutritious or not. I found that the programs offer a regular hot, regular diet meal. Some programs, however, offer special diets such as low sodium, low fat, lactose free, religious/ethnic meals, pureed, and additional supplements. Another program offered to the elderly is one called the Elderly Nutrition Program (ENP). This program provides grants to support nutrition services to older people throughout the country.
I have never heard of this program before, but when researching it, I found it to be the most concerned about nutrition. I believe this because it is intended to improve the diets of the elderly and to offer them opportunities to “form new friendships and to create informal support networks. ” quoted in the ENP website. The ENP provides for congregate and home-delivered meals. These meals and other nutrition services are provided in a variety of settings, such as senior centers, schools, and in individual homes. I think it is great that this program brings their services to not only homes of the elderly but also places where they can eat together.
In the website they mentioned that, “Meals served under the program must provide at least one-third of the daily recommended dietary allowances established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council. In practice, the ENP’s 3. 1 million elderly participants are receiving an estimated 40 to 50 percent of most required nutrients. ” I think this is what the elderly need now and days, places to provide these healthy meals to them.
The ENP also provides a range of related services, by some of the aging network’s estimated 4,000 nutrition service providers, including nutrition screening, assessment, education and counseling. These services help the elderly to identify their general and special nutrition needs, as they may relate to health concerns such as hypertension and diabetes. As far as how these meals are served to those who need them I found that they have volunteers who deliver these meals to them. Another fascinating thing about this program is that the volunteers are encouraged to spend some time with the elderly. I think this is a great necessity to add to a program like this! The elderly are the fastest growing age group in
America; and too often this is also a group most susceptible to many health risks due to a poor diet. Just about every website I looked at mentioned the same thing that elderly fail to get the amounts and types of food necessary. There are many reasons why the elderly might not be eating the most nutritious diet which is all the more reason why we need to be aware of the nutrition problem in the elderly. “After age fifty there are many metabolic and physiological changes which impact on the nutritional needs of an individual. ” as written in a column by Gardner.
I found the metabolic rate can decline as much as thirty percent over a lifetime. This explains why I am slowly gaining weight each year! This makes it hard for an older person’s ability to balance food intake and energy needs. Not only can poor nutrition cause heart disease and heart attacks like I mentioned before but because of the fact many older people have difficulty getting sufficient calories they can eventually get fatigue, depression, and a weakened immune system.
Now to the more scientific reasoning behind nutrition; “As we age our body composition changes with a decrease in lean tissue mass (as much as 25%) and an increase in body fat. Such changes can be accelerated because older adults utilize dietary protein less efficiently and may actually need a greater than recommended amount of high quality protein in their diet to maintain lean tissue mass. These changes in metabolism and physiology can be exaggerated due to complications from digestive difficulties, oral and dental problems, and medication-related eating and nutrient problems. ” (Gardner) I keep reading about those who over eat and who consume too much fat, too much fast food, etc.
On the other side of that I found those who actually do not eat enough. The elderly is no doubt affected by the fact the low-fat, low-cholesterol diet message. The problem is often that they fear foods and the over-emphasis on single nutrient issues. Basically what researchers are coming up with is that we do need some fat and cholesterol, so do not be afraid of this be concerned about it instead. Of course, along with nutrition comes exercise. For older adults aerobic exercise will not only help to keep their heart and body healthy, but will make daily activities such as lifting grocery bags and climbing the stairs easier.
Before elderly begin an exercise program they should definitely consult their physician. There are several types of aerobic exercise to choose from if one is not aloud. Some are; walking, running, bicycling, and swimming. My grandparents walk their dog everyday which is good exercise that they enjoy. I also had a resident at the nursing home who loved to go down to the CYC and swim on a daily basis, a lot of times nursing homes provide the transportation to these places. Just like younger people, the older should work out about 30 minutes at a times 2-3 times a week as well.
I think that exercising is a good activity for elderly to do because it can be a social activity and is definitely good for their health. Overall what I came up with is that everyone should eat healthier, exercise more, and remember that the “one diet fits all” approach is not always correct. Our bodies all have different needs, and those of the elderly do need more attention. For my actual project I am in the process of gathering menus from different nursing homes and Independent Living facilities to see the similarities and differences amongst them. I think it should be pretty interesting to see.
Works Cited Cates,Christopher M. D. , Dietary Reference Intakes. http://www. fiu. edu/%7Enutreldr/SubjectList/D/DR I_RDA. htm Consumer HealthCare Products Association Publication Department. http://www. aoa. gov/eldfam/Nutrition/Nutritio n. asp Gardner, C. D. , Good Nutrition is Ageless. http://www. enc-online. org/elderly. htm Meadows, Michelle. How to keep your heart healthy. http://www. fda. gov/fdac/features/2003/603_heart. html Meals On Wheels Association of America http://www. mowaa. org The University of Iowa. http://www. vh. org/navigation/vh/topics/adult_patient_ exercise_for_seniors. html