Nutrition is vital to good health, at any age. For a senior, maintaining overall health can prevent disease, aid in injury recovery, and maintain energy levels. But there are a lot of senior nutrition myths that need to be corrected such as:
Seniors don’t need as much nutrition. While seniors’ daily caloric intake will be lower than that of a younger adult, nutrition is just as, if not more, important. Ensuring enough vitamins and minerals make it into a diet with fewer calories can be a challenge, so supplements are often the key.
It is normal for seniors to be overweight. A little bit of ‘extra padding’ used to be considered a sign of good health. But being overweight or even obese is closely linked to shorter lifespans, due largely to increased risk of disease, decreased mobility, and higher chance of injury.
Seniors can skip meals. A common occurrence in seniors is a decreased appetite, which often leads to skipping meals (either intentionally or accidentally). The problem is that skipping meals can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels, leading to profound effects, including further decrease in appetite.
A western diet has no risk of malnutrition. Seniors who go for simple foods, such as white bread, or very stagnant diets, such as eating the same meals every day, risk malnutrition. Seniors who are lonely, or living on low incomes, are further at risk of skipping meals and going unnoticed. Malnutrition is a surprisingly realistic concern in Canada.
It is okay to enjoy sugary treats. We all know the risks of sugar, but they are often escalated in a senior for a number of reasons. Risk of diabetes is very high at this stage of life, and blood sugar levels need to be neatly maintained. Try finding alternatives with good sugars, such as fruit, or fewer sugars.
In our experience, the best bet for maintaining good nutrition in old age is social meals. Ensuring that a senior loved one has at least one meal a day with or around others can be the difference from slipping into poor nutrition habits.