We focus a lot on health for children but there’s not always enough talk circulating about health for senior citizens. This topic is just as important as health for children. Ideally we want to focus on health in all periods of our lives but the most vulnerable for becoming malnourished are children and senior citizens. The reason for that being, not all senior citizens not have the physical means to cook or the financial means to support a budget that includes fresh foods. The focus on health for senior citizens is vital for them to be able to enjoy life like anyone else regardless of the nutrition changes that happen with age.
Many older adults depend on fast food or take out because they are simply burnt out on cooking or might not live somewhere with a full kitchen. This can be detrimental to a senior’s health. Later in life our bodies develop more issues and illnesses, some of which feed off of preservatives, added sodium, and sugar. Type II Diabetes, High Cholesterol, High Blood Pressure are all very common issues amongst older generations and all of these issues are worsened by a diet made up of mostly fast food or take out. This is why a healthy diet is very important to feeling well daily.
As a senior citizen it is in the best interest of your health to eat fresh and healthy foods. Your diet should consist of mostly lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. It’s great to eat canned items; tuna, salmon, fruits, or vegetables, just check the ingredient labels for added ingredients like sugar or sodium, and avoid those products. Also remember to look for low fat dairy items instead of full fat dairy. Check for items fortified with vitamin D for a strong immune system, calcium for bone strength, and fiber to keep your digestive system healthy.
Staying hydrated, as an older adult is very important. Getting dehydrated can be very dangerous for your health. Water is the most hydrating beverage but tea or coffee can be good options to switch it up throughout the day.
Senior citizens are often on medication, which can affect their diet. This can cause upset stomach with most foods or even just a lack of appetite, which can lead to malnourishment. Many illnesses also cause a disruption to older adults appetites. Be sure to eat small healthy meals throughout the day to avoid further issues with your health.
As a senior citizen that lives on social security alone, you may find it a struggle to afford enough groceries to get you through the month. Please find resources to help you get the adequate nutrition you need to stay at optimal health. Reach out to your local food bank, they can provide you with food to help supplement your groceries and most have a senior program dedicated to helping make sure senior citizens are getting enough food. Also look into SNAP benefits. Most senior citizens can get a substantial amount per month when they qualify.
The Galveston County Food Bank has a Homebound Program strictly for senior citizens over the age of 65 (and the disabled). If you feel you qualify or know someone that would, please reach out to the food bank via phone or visit our website for more information on how to apply for this program.
—- Jade Mitchell, Nutrition Educator