When you hit 60, your metabolism changes and your energy output decreases. This means that the nutritional needs of seniors are very different from teenagers and middle-aged adults.
Serious health problems linked to unhealthy diets such as diabetes, heart attacks, and obesity happen more often as we grow older. Hence, eating more nutrient-dense food, drinking fluids regularly and engaging in physical activities are the keys to having good health.
Seniors often fall prey to myths about nutrition and aging, which are false and unhealthy. Here’s a look at common misconceptions about senior nutrition and the facts that disprove them.
Myth: Since seniors have a slower metabolism, it is okay to eat less
Fact: It is true the metabolism of older people slows down. It is also true that they require fewer calories than younger adults.
But seniors need more nutrient consumption because it is harder for our bodies to absorb some vitamins and minerals as we age. It is recommended for seniors to increase their intake of Vitamins B12 and D and calcium through eating more dairy, protein or fruits and vegetables.
Myth: Supplements are a must as we age
Fact: Many seniors take daily vitamins and supplements but only a few need them. Excessive reliance may do more harm than good such as risks of having kidney stones, diarrhea and constipation.
Before taking vitamins and mineral supplements, talk first with your physician about which dietary supplement is right for you and how much you need them. But the most effective way to get the needed nutrients is to improve their diet.
Myth: It’s okay to skip meals if you’re not hungry
Appetite changes as we grow old. But skipping meals is not a good idea.
Skipping meals can cause blood sugar levels to drop too low and spike too high when you suddenly eat a huge meal. Foregoing meals can also decrease appetite.
Loss of appetite can signal a serious health condition such as difficulty in swallowing, thyroid-related problems and poor dentition. The best way is for seniors to eat nutritious food on a regular schedule. They should also weigh themselves from time to time.
Myth: Assisted living communities have terrible food
Fact: Having bland and terrible food is a common stereotype for hundreds of assisted living communities across the country. This may endanger the conditions of the elderly who are often vulnerable.
But some assisted living facilities in Phoenix, Arizona serve meals and snacks ranging from good to excellent. Seniors are also assisted in taking their meals three times a day along with their snacks.
Myth: You only drink fluids when you’re thirsty
Fact: The sense of thirst decreases as we get older. Because of that, many seniors do not feel thirsty even when they are dehydrated.
Water is needed to aid digestion, lubricate joints, help excrete waste and manage body temperature. Not getting adequate water can have serious implications for the health of seniors.
Dehydration may lead to confusion, difficulty in walking, rapid heart rate. It can send older people to hospitals. The best advice is to drink at least eight glasses of water daily.