Getting By

While I was at the Montana Gerontology Society conference last week, I attended a session on nutrition for seniors and wanted to pass some of the information along. As we age, our life circumstances and bodies change and it becomes necessary to adapt our food intake accordingly. Many factors such as income, mobility and health issues and accessibility to food can have a profound effect on the level of nutrition.

The negative effect of the above mentioned factors may lead to malnutrition. It was astounding to hear the high rates of malnutrition in seniors. Some symptoms include: fatigue; increased illness or infection; irritability or depression; unplanned weight loss. The changes that someone experiences as they get older may lead to the malnutrition. These are contributing factors: poor dental health; chewing or swallowing difficulties; lack of appetite; poor eating habits or not eating at all; forgetting to eat; reduced sense of taste, usually due to taking multiple medications; mobility issues.

Just as it is important for all ages to make healthy food choices, the above information emphasizes how even more important it is for seniors to have balanced nutrition.

Here are some key tips:

1. Drink plenty of liquids.

2. Eat with others to make eating a social event.

3. Get advice on what healthy choices to eat and how much. I have many handouts that are available.

4. Vary vegetables with different colors.

5. If chewing is difficult, softer foods may help like cooked or canned foods such as unsweetened fruit, low-sodium soups or canned tuna.

6. Use herbs and spices.

7. Keep food safe by storing and cooking to proper temperatures.

8. Pay attention to calories, fats, sodium and sugars by reading the Nutrition Facts label.

9. Ask your doctor about vitamins or supplements if there are nutrients you are lacking.

Keep up to date on what is happening in Chouteau County Extension and 4-H by following us on Facebook or checking our website at msuextension.org/chouteau.

Additional information is available by contacting Janell at the Chouteau County Extension Office at 622-3036, janellb@montana.edu or in the Chouteau County Courthouse at 1308 Franklin St in Fort Benton.

Montana State University, US Department of Agriculture and Montana Counties Cooperating. MSU Extension is an equal opportunity/affirmative action provider of educational outreach.

 
 
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