Facts About Senior Health (and How to Thrive)

Seniors often have a tough time getting the right nutrition, but we’re here to help. Find out how senior health is different and get some tips on how to reach your optimal health now.

July 24, 2017 | HF Healthy Living Team

Eating healthy benefits everyone, but it becomes more important for seniors, as they are often faced with greater difficulties. The leading causes of death for adults 65 and over are heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease. In most cases, a healthy lifestyle can prevent these conditions.

Older adults tend to develop a variety of chronic health conditions, many of which are related to poor diet, according to the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging. Seniors are also at a higher risk for conditions or issues related to medicine, bone loss, and more.

Even though lowered activity levels and slowed metabolisms result in older adults needing fewer calories, they still need the same amount of nutrients. Nutrients such as potassium, calcium, vitamins D and B12, and dietary fiber are essential for good health and to build strong bones, especially in older adults. Seniors are most likely to lack these vitamins because their standard diets don’t provide enough nutrients.

Getting the right nutrients as you age can help you:

  • Boost or sustain energy levels
  • Lose or maintain weight
  • Prevent or manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease
  • Keep calorie intake and nutrition needs in check

Studies have shown that poor absorption of vitamin B12 and inadequate dietary fiber increase the chances of heart disease, according to the National Institutes of Health. It can be harder for older adults to absorb certain supplements as well, so be sure to talk to your doctor about what you can do if you have a deficiency.

Tips to Prevent Disease and Stay Healthy

Seniors Exercising
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  • Keep track of your diet: Know which foods you eat often, rarely, or not at all. Aim for nutrient-dense foods like beans, fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and lean protein. Try SuperTracker for help. Check out these pictures to help cut down on portion size, too!
  • Stay safe from food poisoning: Seniors are more likely to be affected by food-borne illnesses, since immune systems weaken with age.
  • Drink water throughout the day: You may lose your thirst as you get older, but you still need to make sure you get plenty of water. Try drinking water between activities throughout the day and be cautious of your medicine, as it may require a certain amount of water. Limit your consumption of sugary drinks, too.
  • Be cautious of drug interactions with food: Certain medicines can be harmful when paired with specific foods. Ask your doctor about interactions and your diet to be safe.
  • Eat healthy snacks: Since your appetite may decrease, healthy snacks can be helpful. Try raw vegetables with hummus dip or a piece of fruit.
  • Find a way to say active: It’s important to get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. If you’re a beginner, start by walking for 10 minutes per day or stretching. Your doctor can help you come up with an exercise program that fits your needs.
  • Make one change daily: If revamping your routine seems intimidating, take it slow. You can start by reducing the amount of salt you put on food, or simply eating more nutrient-rich foods.
  • Try herbs and spices: Food can start to lose its taste as you age, so try to change up your meals by using different spices or herbs for a healthy alternative.

Are you struggling with your health as a senior? Make sure you know how to read a nutrition label, and speak with your doctor about any concerns you may have.

 

© 2017 HF Management Services, LLC

Healthfirst is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Healthfirst group of affiliated companies.

This health information or program is for educational purposes only and not intended to treat, diagnose, or act as a substitute for medical advice from your provider. Consult your healthcare provider and always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.

Sources
“Older Adults,” Choose My Plate. Accessed June 19, 2017.
https://www.choosemyplate.gov/older-adults

“Nutrition Concerns for Aging Populations,” National Institutes of Health. Accessed June 19, 2017.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK51837/

“Water,” National Institute on Aging. Accessed June 20, 2017.
https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/whats-your-plate/water

“Common Questions,” National Institute on Aging. Accessed June 20, 2017.
https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/whats-your-plate/common-questions#weight

“Older Persons’ Health,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed June 20, 2017.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/older-american-health.htm

“Older Americans: Key Indicators of Well-Being” Federal Interagency Forum on Aging. Accessed June 20, 2017.
https://agingstats.gov/docs/LatestReport/Older-Americans-2016-Key-Indicators-of-WellBeing.pdf

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