Healthy Aging at Home Tips
Another critical area that can impact your elderly loved one's risk for falling is the nutritional quality of the food they eat - and properly absorb
Ironically, a contributing cause of poor diet can be a lack of energy - to shop, plan and prepare meals - that itself can be caused from... a poor diet. Combined with a lack of adequate and regular exercise that leads to physical weakness , this can develop into a vicious downward cycle.
This physical weakness is a result of lost muscle mass, so while all nutrients are important, seniors need to consume more protein than younger adults (and exercise!) to minimize this loss as it not only impacts energy levels, but the ability to maintain core strength and range of motion which are critical for independent day-to-day activities.
Other causes of a poor diet can include:
Decreased appetite from medications, depression, or oral health issues such as ill-fitting dentures, or reduced production of saliva which impacts chewing and swallowing
Decreased sense of smell and/or taste that contributes to less interest in eating
Lack of sufficient nutrients in food choices
Decreased production of stomach acid, digestive enzymes, probiotics, etc., reduces digestive system's ability to properly absorb nutrients that are consumed
Medial or other health conditions which can affect proper nutritional absorption
Lack of support with shopping and cooking
Low or fixed income
Signs and Symptoms
Pale, dry skin. Dry, brittle hair
Mouth problems - cracks at corners, pale/swollen tongue, bleeding gums, etc. (caused by nutrition deficiencies)
Chronic diarrhea or constipation - due to poor absorption of nutrients
Avoidance behaviour ie: not wanting to go to a restaurant for a meal - especially if it was once an activity they enjoyed
Few food items in fridge, freezer or pantry. Food items expired or spoiled
A full check up is in order if it's been a while. Know your loved one's health numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc) to get a starting point. Not all nutrients can be adequately measured through blood work up, so ask their GP or Pharmacist for recommendations. Ask their GP for a referral to a Dietician to get a proper nutritional assessment done.
Ensure your loved one is getting enough Vitamin D through their diet or supplementation. Deficiency of this nutrient leads to muscle weakness, and more falls and fractures amongst the elderly. If they are taking a supplement, make sure it is Vitamin D3 (vs. D2). D3 is a natural form of the vitamin and is more readily absorbed by the body.
Proper intake of B12 is a simple and low-cost way to reduce the risk of falls as a deficiency in this vitamin is associated with muscle weakness, dizziness and fatigue
Next: Pre-Existing Health Conditions
Your elderly loved ones can often have acquired several health issues over time that can put them at a greater risk for falling. Each can negatively impact one another, making it more of a challenge to pinpoint and address.
© Nancy Glover | Aging With Grace www.AgingwithGrace.ca
Do you need help with setting up a plan to ensure your parent or spouse is well nourished?
Contact Nancy to inquire about a Caregiver Action Plan assessment where all aspects of care are reviewed in order to help families create a more dynamic and positive experience for the care of their loved ones.
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Nancy Glover, a healthy aging advocate, mentors extraordinary women and men who have stepped into the challenging role of caring for their elderly spouse or parent by managing their well-being in the later stages of life. Blending first-hand expertise with practical step by step systems to support the needs, goals, and desires of the elderly spouse or parent, Nancy helps caregivers maneuver the complex and often challenging role with supportive advocacy and resources that equally focus on everyone’s well-being. Learn more about her at www.agingwithgrace.ca and sign up to receive timely information and strategies to empower caregivers and families in transition.