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Good Nutrition Gives Seniors What They Need for Better Living

Hunger and malnutrition prove to be a much greater issue for seniors than younger adults due to a wide range of social circumstances, such as living alone, and health conditions, such as dementia.

These multiple factors can lead to “a cascade of difficulties” that prevent seniors from getting the nutrition needed for healthful living, according to the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com). The clinic adds that malnutrition leads to serious health consequences and raises the risk of death—and that the effects of malnutrition build up over time, leading to fatigue and a weakened immune system. This can leave seniors vulnerable to pneumonia and other serious infections.

Other effects of undernourishment for seniors include:

  • Increased risk of digestive, lung and heart problems
  • Mental confusion
  • Worsening of existing health conditions, including dementia
  • Increased loss of strength and muscle mass, which can lead to greater risk of falls and fractures
  • Changes in brain chemistry that increase the incidence of depression and isolation
  • Blood clots
  • Bed sores
  • Post-surgical complications
  • Increased need for hospitalization
  • Decreased efficiency of many prescription drugs

Conversely, healthful eating, supported as needed by family and professional caregivers, offers seniors numerous benefits, according to the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (www.nia.nih.gov).

Effects of Good Nutrition for Seniors:

  • Greater energy and improved feeling of well-being by providing the body the calories needed to get through the day, appropriate to activity level
  • Greater longevity
  • Strengthened immune system and protection against illness
  • Reduced incidence of mood swings and depression
  • Increased mental focus
  • Reduced risk of high blood pressure, and high cholesterol
  • Lessened risk of diabetes
  • Strengthened bones through prevention of bone loss
  • Decreased risk of some forms of cancer
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Greater control of weight by concentrating on nutrient-rich foods that are more filling than “empty calorie” foods that lack essential vitamins and minerals
  • Younger, healthier looking skin
  • Improved digestion and regularity, through consumption of whole-grain foods, fruits and vegetables and drinking more water

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