The Truth About Elder Nutrition
Maintaining a nutrient-dense diet is critically important for older adults because of the impact of food intake on health. Years of research have demonstrated that diet quality greatly affects physical condition, cognitive condition, bone health, eye health, vascular function, and the immune system. However, there are several myths regarding nutrition and the elderly.
At Elder Services of Okaloosa County, we want to inform you how believing these myths can prove problematic. Additionally, our locally funded Meals on Wheels Program addresses nutritional needs in this vulnerable population to reduce premature institutionalization, maintain independence and preserve the dignity of the person.
Myths about elder nutrition
1. Malnutrition is not a concern for the older population
There is a common belief that malnutrition is not a concern for our older population and that they have slower metabolisms meaning they need less food to survive. In fact, one in seven elderly individuals is food insecure. Our ageing population is at particularly high risk for malnutrition. 50% of those admitted to the hospital are suffering from a lack of sufficient healthy food options.
2. Food insecurity and chronic diseases are not related
Food insecurity and chronic disease are often interrelated and can lead to a downward spiral of health and illness. Skipping or missing meals can lead to depression, accelerated cognitive decline, weakened immune response, chronic pain and inflation, early mortality, and more. Statistically, 69% of our elders must choose between food and utilities, 66% choose between food and medical care, and 79% report eating unhealthy junk/cheap food which is easier to obtain and requires no preparation.
3. Supplements and vitamins are enough
Although supplements and/or vitamins can help meet dietary goals, they are not a replacement for nutrients from food. Older adults should work with their physicians to determine what nutrients their bodies may need to ensure they stay healthy.
Okaloosa’s local Meals on Wheels program provides hot, nutritionally balanced meals to vulnerable adults Monday through Friday at noon time. These meals are provided to assure access to healthy foods for those who would otherwise go without eating. The service reduces the stress associated with food insecurities and contributes to healthy habits which improve overall well-being.
If you are looking for a licensed home health care agency in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, reach out to us at Elder Services of Okaloosa County. We provide non-medical service to frail, at-risk persons in the preferred setting and comfort of their own homes. We offer senior home care and caregiver services across Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Mary Esther, Crestview, Niceville, Valparaiso, and the surrounding areas.