Food For Senior Life: Preparation and Storage

Food safety for seniors: each year about about 13 million Canadians become ill from eating foods contaminated by bacteria, viruses or parasites, Health Canada reports. However, safe food handling, preparation and storage practices can greatly decrease the risks of food-borne illness. These practices are particularly important for seniors.

Seniors are at a higher risk of dehydration than younger adults. In fact, one study showed that up to 48% of seniors were dehydrated upon admission to the emergency department for other issues. Staying hydrated keeps the cardiovascular system healthy. Proper hydration positively affects both blood pressure and heart rate.

A healthy diet delivers essential nutrients for optimal health and plays an essential role in improving the quality of life and independence of senior citizens. According to the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health, good nutrition may help seniors slow the onset of many diseases, manage the symptoms of chronic illness, lessen the impact of disease on lifestyle and boost longevity.

Hunger and malnutrition is a greater problem for Canada’s seniors than many may realize—and it is due to a wide variety of causes, not just financial constraints. According to a report by FoodBanks Canada seniors accounted for 5.5% of food bank clients in a typical month.

A well-balanced, heart-healthy diet—rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains—reduces plaque build-up in the arteries to deliver a free-flowing stream of oxygen to all parts of the body, including the brain.

A nutritious diet is especially important for seniors’ health. That is because a variety of factors puts older adults at greater risk of malnutrition, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. These factors include chronic disease, physical disability, isolation,limited income and medications that limit nutrient absorption.

As we age, our bones lose density, muscles lose flexibility, and joints become worn over time. Mobility can become limited and balance can be affected, making us more at risk for falling and fracturing bones. Seniors are especially prone to falling, and also to diseases such as osteoporosis and arthritis, which can impose limitations in the most basic activities of life.

For older adults, there are particular benefits of healthy eating. They include increased mental acuteness, resistance to illness and disease, higher energy levels, faster recuperation times and better management of chronic health problems. Eating well can also be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced.

Diet has a direct effect on senior blood pressure. Seniors need to reduce their salt intake, and increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in their diets. Seniors who consume a diet high in sodium are more likely to experience high blood pressure, which increases risk for heart disease, stroke and other health problems.

Because more than sixty percent of the human body is made up of water, staying hydrated is important to keep our bodies functioning properly. Elderly adults are among the most at risk groups for dehydration, one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization after age 65. Because of the potentially serious consequences of this condition to seniors, as a caregiver it’s important to recognize the causes and symptoms of dehydration as well as how you can help your loved one stay properly hydrated.

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