Proper nutrition can be difficult to accomplish as we age. Our taste buds, as well as our sense of smell change. Medications can cause upset stomach and appetite loss. Conditions like macular degeneration and diabetes can make reading nutrition labels and expiration dates difficult.The emotional aspects of aging can also have a significant impact on the desire to make nutritious meals versus opt for a tv dinner or quick snack loaded with sugar. Your mom might be less likely to eat because it feels like more work than it’s worth to cook for just one. Or, your dad might be learning how to prepare meals for himself after years of relying on a spouse.
When a parent or loved one isn't getting the proper nutrition they need, their body’s immune system has more difficulty fighting off infection and illness. Seniors lacking proper nutrition in their diet are also at an increased risk of experiencing a fall.
Here are three common conditions associated with poor nutrition and how to avoid them:
- Dehydration: One of the most frequent reasons for hospitalization in people over the age of 65. Dehydration can cause confusion, dizziness, low blood pressure, difficulty walking and a host of other effects. Many of these symptoms can increase the risk of falls, the leading cause of injury in the elderly.
Highgate Fit Tip: Stay hydrated by drinking low-sugar vitamin waters, healthy natural juices, green tea, and lots of basic water.
- Depression: If you’ve ever turned to ice cream or chocolate after a bad day, you know that our emotions can influence what we choose to eat. But, did you know that what you eat can actually make depression worse? Excessive sugar in a diet has been linked to depression, diabetes and dementia. Artificial sweeteners can cause insomnia as well as changes in mood (lending a hand to depression). Saturated fats cause clogged arteries that can decrease blood flow to the brain, making it difficult to fight off “the blues”.
Highgate Fit Tip: Try using less white sugar and fewer refined white starches. Eliminate saturated fats and use extra virgin olive oil instead.
- Diabetes: Those who are overweight, inactive, and have a poor diet are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Over time, diabetes can cause more serious conditions like stroke or heart disease. Diabetes also increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Highgate Fit Tip: Eat a well-balanced diet, including fresh fruit and vegetables. If looking for a quick nutritious snack, try almonds and dried cranberries for a combination of sweet and salty.
Highgate’s Commitment to Offering Nutrition and Delicious Food
If you’ve ever visited senior living communities, you know the quality of food varies from community to community. Some offer more home-cooked meals, while others serve processed, easy-to-cook food.
Senior living has much to offer when it comes to encouraging healthy eating, and creating an environment that entices the taste buds. It’s hard to eat alone, and it’s hard to be motivated to cook for one.
Khalid Iraqui, Highgate’s Director of Dining Services, brings over 20 years of experience as a chef at high-end restaurants and hotels. He attended culinary school in Paris and has gained extraordinary skills working all over the world. He came to Highgate because, in his words, “This is where I can actually make a difference.” Instead of fructose-based juices, he offers milk, teas and vitamin waters. He uses less white sugar and fewer refined white starches than most senior living communities, preferring to offer the taste and nutrition of whole grains, legumes, lentils and rice.
Khalid insists on freshly brewed artisan coffees, and has eliminated all saturated fats using extra virgin olive oil instead. Serving only pasteurized whole eggs, and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Choice is a high priority at Highgate. From signature breakfasts with multiple options to dressing your own potato at the potato bar or enjoying afternoon tea, London-style, Highgate believes in investing in a dining program that residents and team members rave about.