By Stephanie Baroccas, Director of Community Relations & Registered Nutritionist, The Medallion
Proper nutrition is important at every stage of our lives. Eating a balanced diet can help maintain a healthy weight, regulate blood sugars and blood pressure, promote a healthy digestive system and fuel the brain for better cognitive function. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 3.7 million of older Americans are malnourished, including undernutrition as well as nutrient deficiencies and imbalances, such as vitamins or calcium.
As seniors age, their metabolism slows down, and their appetite decreases. Often, their sense of taste and smell can also be affected. Dentition issues, such as loss of teeth or ill-fitting dentures may further contribute to seniors avoiding raw fruits, vegetables and other nutritious foods. Seniors living alone might not have immediate access to nutrient-dense foods or they may not have the stamina to cook proper meals. Even those living with their children or relatives might not get sufficient macro or micronutrients in home-prepared meals, as their dietary needs differ from those of younger adults and children. All these factors may result in overall poor food intake as well as dehydration. At some point, maintaining a healthy, well-balanced diet can become a real issue.
One of the benefits of living at an assisted living community, such as The Medallion, is that trained staff take care of residents’ nutritional needs, eliminating the concerns regarding both quantity and the quality of meals your loved one consumes. Most communities offer three, well-balanced meals a day, often with a menu consisting of several options as well as “off the menu” choices because variety is equally important as the nutritional value.
For residents with specific health issues, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, who may require careful monitoring of macro- and micronutrients, individual menus can be modified by trained staff to ensure proper nutrition.
Most senior living communities have registered dietitians on staff who play a vital role in planning well balanced meals that meet the nutritional needs of residents. Dietitians usually work with a physician to develop customized care plans that consider each resident’s medical history and other dietary considerations (such as allergies, food intolerances and even religious beliefs) to meet individual residents’ needs.
As our loved ones age, there may come a time when despite one’s best efforts, it’s not possible to provide the quality of care that trained professionals offer. This includes planning and preparing meals, especially for seniors with health issues. There are many benefits to transitioning to an assisted living community. Ensuring your loved one receives good nutrition to enhance their quality of life, health and cognition in their golden years is just one of them. Please contact me at 713-778-5702 or email firstname.lastname@example.org toschedule a tour to learn more about nutrition for seniors and other ways The Medallion Jewish Assisted Living Residence can help provide a continuum of care for your aging loved ones.