Getting By

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 is astounding to hear the high rates of malnutrition in seniors. Some symptoms include fatigue, increased illness or infection, irritability or depression, and unplanned weight loss. Additional contributing factors leading to malnutrition: 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. Your medical provider can assist in connecting you with this information.

4. Consume a variety of 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 to decrease use of salt and to help with palatability and appeal to the senses.

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

8. Balance your intake of calories, fats, sodium and sugars. Reading the Nutrition Facts label will assist you in keeping track. Cutting any of these completely out of your diet is not recommended because each has a purpose in keeping us healthy. Just as too much is not good for us, the same is true for not getting enough of something.

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

To learn more, contact Janell at the Chouteau County Extension Office at 622-3036, or in the green building next to the Chouteau County Courthouse at 1308 Franklin St in Fort Benton with any questions or for more information.

Follow us on Facebook @ChouteauCountyExtension to keep up to date on what is happening in Chouteau County Extension and 4-H.

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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